For the past 135 million years, sturgeon have been swimming in our lakes. In fact, sturgeon have been around for longer than Lake Michigan. But over the past 100 years, these “dinosaur fish” have slowly been disappearing due to overfishing (some species make caviar) and water pollution.
However, over the past ten years, Milwaukeeans have been doing their best to give the prehistoric fish a boost. The city has integrated sturgeon into their curriculum in schools and thrown a festival to celebrate the release of baby sturgeon into Lake Michigan. But UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater is taking things to a new technology level: using GIS to track sturgeon.
In order to learn the paths of the sturgeon, the Wisconsin DNR surgically implanted tags into some of the fish and released them back into the lake. Then, drones built by UWM are able to fly over the lake and pick up geographic signals sent by the fish to track their travel.
Thanks to this program, scientists will be able to put the data into a GIS program and see the migration patterns of the sturgeon, as well as their preferred habitat. With this information, Milwaukeeans can continue their efforts to increase the population of lake sturgeon and bring these prehistoric creatures back to their glory days.