PAST: Potomac and Atlantic Striped Bass Telemetry Study

Research supported by funds and cooperation by Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, MD Department of Natural Resources, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

Project Synopsis:

A long-term priority in the assessment and management of coastal striped bass is determination of emigration and residency rates for striped bass produced in the Chesapeake Bay.  Past tagging and otolith tracer analyses demonstrate that these rates vary strongly with size, sex, and season, but the data are too coarse to employ in current efforts by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to consider how the Chesapeake Bay contributes to Maryland, Potomac River, and Virginia fisheries, as well as those arrayed in mid-Atlantic and New England coastal waters.  A unique and timely opportunity exists to leverage telemetry assets deployed by the US Navy, a cooperative Chesapeake Bay Sturgeon research project, and Atlantic state scientists cooperatively sharing data through the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network and the Mid-Atlantic Acoustic Telemetry Observation System.  Fishes and other animals outfitted with acoustic transmitters can now be tracked as they traverse into and out of the Chesapeake Bay and seasonally migrate in nearshore coastal waters (6-10 miles from shore).

In this project, we will:

  1. Implant a representative group of 100 Potomac River striped bass with coded transmitters that will allow them to be detected for a 2.5 year period within the Potomac River, and across major regions and tributaries of the Chesapeake and the Atlantic Coast.
  2. Deploy listening receiver arrays in the Potomac River and central main-stem region (i.e., Cedar Point) of the Chesapeake Bay.
  3. Evaluate a set of hypotheses related to seasonal migrations including:
    • What sizes and sexes principally leave the Chesapeake Bay?
    • How are seasonal migrations in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay timed with seasonal changes in temperature and flow?
    • Where do resident fish go?  Do they stay in the Potomac? Do they avoid areas of poor water quality?
    • What other estuaries and coastal regions do Potomac River striped bass visit -- Delaware, Hudson, North Carolina sounds, New England?
    • What is the timing of spawning runs in the Potomac?  Do adults spawn every year?

Have you seen this tag?

"RESEARCH 410-326-7421 RELEASE"

We are asking help from fishermen to release fish bearing yellow external Floy tags bearing these words.  Please put these fish back so that they can tell us their story.

How does all this work?

Small, thumb-sized transmitters are surgically implanted in striped bass.  Shown below are fish that are carefully treated under narcosis so that they can be released promptly and in good condition. 

The transmitters ping at 70 second intervals with a code that conveys information on that individual fish.  Pings are heard at half a mile distance from receivers that we attach to buoys.  Receivers stand about a foot high and weigh a couple pounds.  These continuously listen for transmitters and record times when individual fish pass by.  Every two months we retrieve receivers and download the stored data.

In the Potomac and mid-Bay, receivers will be deployed as shown in the map below.  Cooperating scientists at Washington District Department of the Environment and USFWS have receivers deployed in upriver segments of the Potomac River.  CSI investigators have receivers placed throughout the main-stem and other tributaries.

Take a look at the our detections in Maryland waters (and beyond!) as of December 31, 2014. Please note that this is a product that will develop as we receive more detections.

Size-Specific Detections

Sex-Specific Detections

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