Sturgeon Rescue Effort Begins Along Sacramento River

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KNIGHTS LANDING -- State Fish and Wildlife crews began efforts to rescue sturgeon stranded by the receding waters of the Sacramento River.

During recent heavy flows, water flowed over the concrete Fremont Weir into the Yolo Bypass. But now the water level has dipped below the concrete weir, and water is draining out of the bypass.

Pools of water along the concrete barrier hold adult and juvenile fish including salmon and the threatened green sturgeon. Sturgeon have been rescued from this area before. The fish can grow to nearly 7 feet long and weigh up to 350 pounds. They don't beginning reproducing until they are 17 years old.

"These adults are really important to rescue because they are the ones to recruit to future populations...we need to give these fish a chance to spawn," said Colin Purdy, senior supervising scientist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Over a dozen crew members used a net to herd stranded fish down a narrow channel next to the weir but found no sturgeon. They did rescue small juvenile salmon, which are also important. But adult fish are the primary targets.

They know from experience that the large fish will be easier to locate and capture as the water levels come down, as they are doing by the hour.

Crews plan to continue operations for at least the next three days.

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