Michael A. Eggleton wrote:
> Dear List:
> Earlier this spring, a commercial fisherman on the lower Mississippi River
> mentioned that he had collected some sturgeons (around 20-24 inches TL) in
> his nets. These fish had "rubber bands" wrapped around their body
> which was cutting into the gills and skin behind the dorsal fin. He
> thought that someone was haphazardly stocking them thinking the rubber
> band would break off in time. After a brief check, I couldn't locate
> anyone stocking sturgeon in the vicinity (although I couldn't figure why
> stocked fish would have a rubber band on them either). I also considered
> that they could be a part of someone's tagging study.
> Last week, we too collected a shovelnose sturgeon from a floodplain lake
> upstream of Vicksburg, MS with a rubber band wrapped as described above.
> Another biologist said he had observed the same thing 10 years ago also
> on the Miss. River. Thus, it must be a fairly common occurrence.
> If this is not related to stocking or some type of unpublicized tagging
> study, how is this occurring naturally? Are these fish be swimming
> through rubber bands laying on the river bottom (as juveniles?) or is it
> some other mechanism altogether. If anyone out there has had similar
> experiences, I'd like to hear from them.
> Thanks in advance.
> Mike Eggleton
> Mississippi State University
We expêrienced similar findings on Atlantic Sturgeon in the
St-Lawrence estuary. Back in late eighties, we began a large survey
of the fishery for that species and we founr that 8% of all the
catches that we sampled (n=796) were wrapped with rubber bands.
We also observed that phenomenon only on the smaller fishes, less
than 130 cm(FL) and we immediately initiate an information programm
for post office staff in Quebec asking postmen to keep in their
mailbag all rubber bands they use for mail delivery rather than
throw it away.
This campaign gave good results as we observed less than 0,5%
(n=1097) sturgeons with rubber bands last year.
I think that sturgeons are very vunerable, especially the young,
to rubber bands when they're looking for prey on the river bottom.
It's probably a significant mortality cause for the species.
If you need more info, please contact me directly.
Guy Verreault, Fish. bio.
Ministere environnement et Faune
506 rue Lafontaine,
e-mail: [log in to unmask]