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.
Mississippi State University