Linking Inter-River Movements of Savannah River Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis with Spawning Activity in the Nearby Ogeechee River

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The Savannah River population of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) collapsed in the late-1980s, due in part to dredging activity within their estuarine spawning habitat which altered flow regimes and increased salinity to levels lethal to eggs and larvae. The population is now supported through a stocking program by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and there is little indication of natural recruitment within the system. Previous mark-recapture surveys suggest that some adult striped bass may be moving between the Savannah and nearby Ogeechee Rivers via coastal waterways, and we hypothesize these movements correspond to spawning activity in the less physically altered Ogeechee River. Our study involves telemetering of adult striped bass captured in each river coupled with an ichthyoplankton survey in the Ogeechee River to estimate striped bass temporal spawning effort. To date, we have surgically implanted coded acoustic transmitting tags in 18 adult striped bass (>6 lb.) in the Savannah River Estuary and two adult striped bass (>12 lb.) in the Ogeechee River Estuary. An existing array of receivers allows us to gather spatiotemporal movement data within and between each river. To identify spawning activity in the Ogeechee River, we annually sample striped bass ichthyoplankton through a boat-mounted plankton tow from February to May. Of the twenty fish tagged, two have relocated from the Savannah River to the Ogeechee River. These short-term residencies (2014-2016) corresponded to our detected spawning window in the Ogeechee River (2017).


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