George Washington once wrote in his diary that he "went a dragging for Sturgeon," fishing for a culinary staple in the 18th century. But it's more than being mentioned in George Washington's diary that makes the Atlantic sturgeon an American legend. The sturgeon, the Bay's largest native fish, was here long before the days of the American Revolution. Dating back 120 million years, the Atlantic sturgeon once thrived in the waters in and around the Chesapeake Bay. But these dinosaurs of the Chesapeake are now threatened with extinction after their populations plummeted from poor water quality, habitat destruction, and overfishing.
All is not lost, however. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries is now proposing to designate "critical habitat" for this important fish. Designating areas as "critical habitat" can make a world of difference for the sturgeon. But water quality must be a priority in designating this habitat. If it isn't, sturgeon populations could remain under threat as poor water quality creates barriers between important sturgeon habitat and interrupts the species' life cycle.
What's even better—the sturgeon won't be the only beneficiary from improving water quality. By implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, we all will experience the benefits of clean water, from expanded recreational opportunities, to improved public health, to massive economic benefits. Our children deserve to see a Bay full of clean water with a thriving population of this historic fish. Sign our petition now!
This Week in the Watershed: Dinosaur Fish, Planting Oysters, and an Average Dead Zone
- Revised procedures have made it easier for Maryland oyster farmers to lease places on the Bay. (Bay Journal)
- CBF added to its already large total of oysters planted in Virginia's Lafayette River, adding 200,000 more on Tuesday. (ABC 13—VA)
- The size of the dead zone in the Bay spiked in late July and is now at its average size, covering about 14 percent of the Bay's mainstem. (Bay Journal)
- Researchers are studying how extreme weather is impacting the striped bass population and other fisheries. (Science Daily)
- Biologists are concerned that despite finding large Atlantic sturgeon, the Chesapeake Bay's oldest and largest fish, young sturgeon are few and far between. (Washington Post—D.C.)
- A controversial subdivision on Kent Island has received approval to move forward. (Bay Times)
- On a visit to a Lancaster County farm, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr. learned about agricultural conservation practices and how they improve local water quality. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
What's Happening around the Watershed?
August 19, 26, September 2, and 9
- Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay—join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. Click here to register!
- Wrightsville, PA: Join CBF, Heroes on the Water, and local Trout Unlimited chapters for a day of fishing, paddling, and fly-fishing lessons on the Susquehanna River as we celebrate our veterans and the value of clean waterways. Veterans, community members, paddlers, fishermen, friends, and family are welcome at Shank’s Mare Outfitters from 1 to 5 p.m., to discover and appreciate the Susquehanna. From 5 to 7 p.m., CBF will host a dinner and open bar with live music for all participants. There is a $5 entrance fee for dinner and drinks. Click here to register!
- Raphine, VA: The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council is sponsoring a summer forage tour exploring the topic of planning for drought. Click here to learn more!
—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate