The James River Association (JRA) is once again providing a unique way to celebrate James River Week by offering their beloved event, “The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon”. This year’s event will feature an extended series of sturgeon viewing trips through JRA’s Connect with the James programs that will allow the public an opportunity to get on the water and learn about the Atlantic sturgeon, specifically in relation to the James River.
Beginning Tuesday, September 15 and running through Friday, September 18, JRA staff will be hosting several outings on the Spirit of the James, JRA’s pontoon boat, as well as a number of guided canoe trips. Participants will enjoy an educational voyage, learning about the natural resources of the James River and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, which make an annual spawning migration up the James River in late summer when they can be seen breaching.
“If you aren’t familiar with the story of the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, there’s no better time to join JRA for an outing on the Spirit of the James or a guided canoe trip to discover this amazing fish,” said Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager of the James River Association. “Connect with the James programs associated with The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon event provide folks with one-of-a-kind opportunities to learn about and possibly see Atlantic sturgeon.”
Capable of growing up to 14 feet in length, weighing 800 pounds, and living 60 years, Atlantic sturgeon spend their adult years in the Atlantic Ocean. Every spring and fall, they return to spawn in the rivers where they were born. Commercial harvesting decimated the Atlantic sturgeon population in the late 1800s and continued threats to the Atlantic sturgeon’s recovery include ship strikes, by-catch in commercial fisheries, water withdrawals from rivers and sediment pollution that blankets spawning habitat on the bottom of the river.
“September is one of the most exciting times of year to explore the James River,” said Jamie Brunkow, James Riverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager of the James River Association. “Witnessing a sturgeon breach is a remarkable experience that sticks with you, and through our Connect with the James programs, we help the public get to know this iconic species on a deeper level.”
The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon is made possible by support from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office. Additional support is provided by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, James River Advisory Council, Riverside Outfitters, and Rocketts Landing.
Pontoon boat tickets cost $25 per participant and canoe tickets cost $20 per participant, with proceeds benefiting JRA. For more information about The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon and to sign up for an upcoming trip, visit https://thejamesriver.org/
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