Deja Walker, a third-grade student at Napa Valley Boys and Girls Club, was strolling with her grandparents on Stinson Beach near San Francisco in early October when she noticed some boys throwing around what looked like a toy. When the kids tossed it aside, she investigated and found the nearly foot-long tube offered a reward for its return to NOAA.
What Deja didn’t know was that she had found one of several satellite tags used by NOAA researchers to understand the impact of commercial halibut fishing on green sturgeon, one of nature’s most prehistoric fish.
Deja Walker holds the pop-off satellite tag she found on Stinson Beach and returned to NOAA. The adults pictured are, from left, Liam Zarri (NOAA), Marilyn Walker, Blake Walker and Ethan Mora (NOAA). Photo: Jim Milbury, NOAA
Green sturgeon are bottom feeders, scavenging on invertebrates and small fish. They can grow to about eight feet in length and live for about 70 years. Although they spawn in fresh water, the adults may travel up and down the West coast from Mexico to Alaska.
Sturgeon have meandered throughout our oceans and rivers since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. But despite their long history, one population of green sturgeon in California may be edging closer towards extinction. The southern population, or those green sturgeon that spawn in the Sacramento River basin, were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2006 because of the loss of historical spawning habitat.