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Jumping Sturgeon on the Suwanee

June 30th, 2015 by Mike Vasilinda

Each year thousands of prehistoric Gulf Sturgeon enter the Suwanee and six other rivers in Florida. The fish are know to jump, and have hurt two people, neither seriously, so far this year. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, state officials are warning July fourth boaters to be on the lookout.

The Suwanee River. Quiet. Peaceful. Until.

That was the voice o Fish and Wildlife Conservation spokesperson Karen Parker. She is still thrilled to to see the giant fish leap.

“They’re Basically doing what they’ve been doing for the last two hundred million years, and that’s jumping.  And the scientist I spoke with finally figured out why they jump…which is pretty amazing. Its for communication between other fish, and to gulp air so they can fill up their swim bladder” says Parker.

Catching the fish on camera is a feat in itself…you never know when…or where they will jump, which is why boaters are always at risk. Two people…a 59 year old woman and a 14 year old girl were hurt in separate incidents this year.

“It’s simply, they’re jumping and at a time when we want to use the rive too. So we are both trying to use the river, and sometimes we collide” says Parker.

The fish arrive in April and leave when the water starts to cool in the fall.

What we do know for certain is that the fish aren;t jumping for food. They don’t eat the entire time they are in the river.

Q:”from what I’ve read, they really fill up on shrimp and crab before they move into the river.

A:”Yeah, they’ll lose like twenty-five percent of their body weight when they get in here” says Parker.

So boaters beware…there are fish beneath the Suwanee just waiting to communicate.

The state didn’t start keeping track of collisions with the Sturgeon until 2006, when 9 people were injured. The Gulf Sturgeon are protected under federal law.

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