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Environment and Outdoors

UMaine Researchers Find Shortnose Sturgeon Upriver from Veazie Dam

VEAZIE, Maine — University of Maine researchers have confirmed that, for the first time in more than a century, shortnose sturgeon have returned to historic habitat upriver of the Veazie Dam.

Before the dam was removed in 2013, the "living fossils" didn't have access to that part of the Penobscot River.

UMaine marine sciences associate professor Gayle Zydlewski says shortnose sturgeon are among the most primitive fish to inhabit the Penobscot and remain very similar to their earliest fossil forms.

She says for the past ten years or so researchers have been putting tags into shortnose sturgeon to monitor their movement.

"These tags produce a sound, and we put devices on the bottom of the river that actually record the sounds, and the sound has information about each individual fish that the tag was put into," Zydlewski says.

In mid-October three female shortnose sturgeon were found upriver of the Veazie Dam's remnants. Zydlewski says the three have since joined other individuals downriver in wintering habitat near Brewer, which could be a staging area for spawning this spring.