Island living

A panoramic view taken from the main channel side of an island on the Yellowstone River. Upstream is to the right side of the picture while downstream is to the left. The middle of the picture looks straight across to the descending right bank.

Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) crews assisted USGS biologist Pat Braaten and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jason Rhoten in examining pallid sturgeon on the Yellowstone River from June 29 through July 8.  Various pallid sturgeon were located and attempts were made to track their pathways, map their habitat, and conduct underwater sonar surveys using dual frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) to learn about their behavior. Read more about DIDSON on an earlier blog post.

Depth measurements using the acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) were collected around the island where female code 79 was located multiple times during the month of June, 2011.

One telemetered pallid sturgeon, also known as female code 79, was located on the downstream tip of an island.  She had been re-located at this spot several times during the course of the summer.  The depth of the habitat surrounding the island was mapped while another boat attempted to DIDSON the fish.  The following DIDSON video visualizes swimming behavior of pallid sturgeon female code 79 (larger fish) along with two smaller fish in the fast-moving environment of the Yellowstone River.  The two smaller fish are likely sturgeon, but it is nearly impossible to distinguish between pallid sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon at that size.  While viewing the following video, notice the high amount of sand passing through the habitat location.

DIDSON footage of sturgeon in the Yellowstone River.


About Emily Pherigo

Emily is no longer with the Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project. When she was here, she was a biologist contracted to the Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project. Most of her time was spent at a computer performing QA/QC on data or updating figures and graphs most used by Aaron DeLonay. However, she occasionally made it to the river, where she enjoyed seeing pallid sturgeon and was reminded why she entered the natural resources field.
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