Scientists seek mystery fish-breeding ground
Feb 6 2006
Maritime fish scientists want the public to help find the lost breeding grounds of the striped bass.
Striped bass used to breed in three rivers that empty into the Bay of Fundy, the Annapolis, the St. John and the Shubenacadie. But a tidal generating station on the Annapolis River and the Mactaquac hydro dam on the St. John have left the fish with only the Shubenacadie. Damage to that last breeding ground could lead to the extinction of the local population.
NOVA SCOTIA AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES Factsheet: Striped Bass
Genetic testing, conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has shown hints of another breeding population and scientists are looking to the public to help locate this mysterious breeding ground.
Rod Bradford, a fish scientist with the DFO
, said DNA testing on striped bass from Mactaquac found fish that were different from other known populations, leading scientists to believe there is another population in the Bay of Fundy. But it is unknown which river is being used as a breeding ground. He said the fish like to mate and lay their eggs in rivers where fresh and salt water mix.
Bradford said members of the public should keep their eyes on the Annapolis and St. John rivers in May and June, as well as other rivers. Scientists are also interested in historic reports of striped bass spawning, because they don't know the exact location of the former breeding grounds.
The fish scientist said the sight of mating striped bass is unmistakable. Maine fisherman call it "rock-fish fights" and Nova Scotians say "the bass are tumbling." Bradford says there is a lot of activity and a great deal of splashing at the surface of the water around the mouths of rivers. Adult fish can grow to more than a metre long and can weigh up to 30 kilograms.
Public consultations are currently ongoing across the Maritimes. A decision as to whether the striped bass is placed on the threatened species list will be made in 2007.