Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Atlantic sturgeon?
The Atlantic sturgeon is a member of the most ancient group of fishes in the world. These fish are still very much in demand on the black market for caviar. The shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon were once plentiful in most rivers on the Atlantic coast extending from the St. Johns River in Florida to the St. Johns River in New Brunswick where there was a fairly good size commercial fishery for both caviar and flesh.
Dams that block their natural upriver migrations to spawn, over fishing, dredging, habitat loss, and pollution have contributed to the reduction of the populations.
What is a red drum, and describe the work that is done with this species at Bears Bluff NFH?
The Red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, also called redfish, spot tail bass, puppy drum and channel bass is a highly prized recreational sport fish that inhabits coastal areas from the mid-Atlantic states south to the Yucatan peninsula. In recent history, red drum abundance has declined primarily as a result of fishing pressure from past commercial operations.
In 2000, researchers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery teamed up to determine the effectiveness of using hatchery produced red drum fingerlings as an enhancement tool to rebuild local populations. Each year, BBNFH contributes to this effort by producing approximately 500,000 fingerling red drum for stocking into the North Edisto River near Wadmalaw Island, SC. In addition, BBNFH staff work with local anglers to evaluate the results of each year’s stocking effort.
Adult red drum are spawned in late summer/early fall at BBNFH. At two days old the larvae are stocked into earthen ponds where they are reared for 4-6 weeks to approximately 1.5 inches in length. Fingerlings are then harvested and stocked by boat at high tide in flooded marsh grasses that serve as temporary refugia for the fingerlings.