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Éraising, then releasing sturgeon into the goal to increase their population

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Juvenile pond-reared sturgeon swim near the Detroit River, Ontario.

Radio-Canada

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< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The sturgeon is an endangered species in the Great Lakes and upper St. Lawrence, according to Ontario. This is why the University of Windsor, in partnership with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Institute (GLIER), designed a project to raise baby sturgeons with a view to reintroducing them into the Great Lakes, their natural habitat, and hope to see the population increase.

Trevor Pitcher is a professor at the University of Windsor and is involved in the project. He explains that his designers compare baby sturgeon behaviors, stress levels and swimming abilities to see which ones perform best before releasing them into their natural environment.

Right now we're just raising them in different environments to see if that affects their ability to handle stress, if that affects their growth.

A quote from Trevor Pitcher, researcher and professor at the University of Windsor

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It's a project that will take years, says Trevor Pitcher.

Once the sturgeons reach maturity, they will be released into the Great Lakes, Pitcher said.

Baby sturgeons are raised in ponds in LaSalle, very close to the Detroit River, southwest of Windsor.

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The sturgeon's natural environment is made up of the vast lakes and rivers of North America, specifies the researcher.

The University of Windsor and its numerous partners, particularly American ones, have set up a project monitoring mechanism.

I can go there every month, measure them and see how they grow. It's a lot of fun, says Olivia Galloway, a science student at the University of Windsor and member of the monitoring team.

The project designers have developed a system for identifying and monitoring fish over several years when they have returned to their natural habitat.

Fish bear labels. We'll end up following them for decades after the program, Pitcher adds.

These types of fish have retained their ancient form for so long. They live longer, in part because they are tall and grow slowly.

A quote from Trevor Pitcher, researcher and professor at the University of Windsor

Pitcher says the decline of sturgeon in the Great Lakes has varied over the years, due to heavy fishing in the early 1900s.

The construction of dams has also contributed to this decline, notes Jérôme Marty, director general of the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

When we connected all the dams on the Great Lakes system, the sturgeon lost its spawning habitat, that explains why today we are trying to reintroduce it, explains Mr. Marty.

Sturgeon can easily grow up to 2 meters long and weigh up to 90 kilograms, according to researcher Trevor Pitcher. I still think of them as solitary torpedoes sailing the Great Lakes, he says.

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“Sturgeon start to reproduce at the age of 25, it’s fantastic,” notes Mr. Marty.

It is essentially a living fossil. It's the closest thing to a dinosaur alive today.

A quote from Trevor Pitcher, researcher and professor at the University of Windsor

The sturgeon is an icon […] that looks a bit like a dinosaur from the past, adds Mr. Marty.

According to him, the sturgeon has a lifespan of several decades.

It looks like a shark, it has spines on its back.

A quote from Jérôme Marty, director general of the International Association for Great Lakes Research

With information from CBC

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