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Sturgeon monitoring in Romania

Authors:
  • Institutul Naţional de Cercetare-Dezvoltare pentru Protecţia Mediului / Universitatea Politehnica din Bucuresti
Presentation

Sturgeon monitoring in Romania

Abstract

Sturgeon monitoring on the Danube
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Methods, techniques and results
for sturgeon monitoring on the
Lower Danube River (2011-
2019)
INCDPM Sturgeon Monitoring Team:
General Manager Eng. DEÁK György, Habil. PhD
Operational Manager Eng. Monica MATEI PhD
Deputy Operational Manager Ec. Madalina BOBOC
Deputy Operational Manager Eng. Marius RAISCHI
Veterinary doctor SZEKELY Levente-Csaba
Head of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Ecol. Elena HOLBAN PhD
Head of Sturgeon Tagging and Monitoring, Eng. Alexandru CRISTEA
Head of Sturgeon Ecology and Conservation, Ecol. Tiberius DANALACHE
Head of Topometry and Bathymetry, Eng. Gabriel CORNATEANU
Bathymetry Measuresment Expert, Eng. Marius OLTEANU
Sturgeon Monitoring Expert, Eng. Lucian LUMINAROIU
Sturgeon Monitoring Expert, Eng. Ionut GHEORGHE
ACTUAL
STATUS
Monitored ultrasonic tagged sturgeon
The monitoring technique and its international recognition
Unique results on actual status of lower Danube ultrasonic tagged sturgeon

Poaching
Hydrotechnical works (impact of Iron Gates, Bala bottom sill and Bastroe channel)
PRESERVIN
G
PERSPECTI
VES
Monitoring juvenile ultrasonic tagged sturgeon specimens


Conclusion and recommendations
Summary
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitored sturgeon species on
Lower Danube
ANADROMOUS SPECIES
POTAMODROMOUS SPECIES
Beluga sturgeon
(Huso huso)
Stellate sturgeon
(Acipenser stellatus)
Russian sturgeon
(Acipenser gueldenstaedtii)
Code - Tagging date
20.10.2011
Code 7S38 Tagging date
30.04.2014
Code 2S4 Tagging date
27.03.2011
Code 6S7 Tagging date 30.04.2014
Sterlet sturgeon
(Acipenser ruthenus)
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitoring steps
UNIQUE
STURGEON
DATABASE
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Sturgeon ultrasonic tagging
steps followed by INCDPM
team
1. Taking over the specimen captured by
<shermen authorized by ANPA
2. Weight
measurem
ent
3. Length
measurement
4. Head diameter measurement
(introduced by INCDPM team)
2, 3, 4. Biometric
measurements
9th-10th March 2020
5. Sex
determination*
6.
Disinfection*
8. Tag
insertion*
7. Performing the
incision*
Sturgeon ultrasonic tagging steps followed by
INCDPM team
*accomplished under veterinary supervision in order to avoid
specimen’s stress and mortality
9th-10th March 2020
( source: Delaware Division of
Fish and Wildlife, 2017)
Vaseline and Betadine
compound Tissue
adhesiv
e
( source: INCDPM, 2017)
9. Suturing*
( source: INCDPM, 2017)
Suture healing
(after 5 months)
Sturgeon ultrasonic tagging steps followed by INCDPM team
Comparison of our technique and other methods worldwide used
*accomplished under veterinary supervision in order to avoid specimen’s stress and mortality
9th-10th March 2020
10. Collecting DNA samples
11. Conserving DNA sample
12. T-bar tagging (antipoaching)*
13. Specimen releasing
underwater
image
Sturgeon ultrasonic tagging steps followed by INCDPM team
* used together to a rising awareness campaign for Romanian
<shermen 9th-10th March 2020
Release of sturgeon made by INCDPM Sturgeon team
INCDPM monitoring systems used for
establishing the ultrasonic tagged sturgeon
migration routes & behaviour
DKTB INCDPM
DKMR-01T INCDPM
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
The advantages of the INCDPM monitoring systems used for establishing the ultrasonic
tagged sturgeon migration routes & behaviour
( source: INCDPM, 2012 - 2017)
( source: INCDPM – INCDDD subunit, 2011)
( source: Veilleux, 2014)
Monitoring system
Accessibility Data security Installation
effort
Data download
effort
Data download
costs
Protection and
maintenance costs
INCDPM – INCDDD
subunit Low Low High High High Low
DKTB INCDPM High High Medium Low Low Medium
DKMR-01T INCDPM High High Low Low Low Low
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Risks related to the monitoring systems used for establishing the
ultrasonic tagged sturgeon migration routes & behaviour by INCDPM
Destroyed stations on Bala Branch (without data loss)
Monitoring stations
were rebuilt
by INCDPM
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Hampering INCDPM team’s actions for scientific research on
lower Danube sturgeon status
Period
No. of authorized days Authorized
days/year
(%)
I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
2011 Before project start 2 30 15 0 0 24 30 31 35.9 %
2012 0 0 9 4 31 15 0 0 0 8 30 0 26.5 %
2013 0 0 4 30 10 0 0 0 0 24 30 31 35.3 %
2014 0 0 17 30 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 16.4 %
2015 0 0 0 10 31 30 31 0 0 19 30 18 46,3 %
2016 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 30 31 30 31 34,4 %
2017 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 31 30 31 0 0 31,2%
2018 0 0 0 0 0 20 31 31 30 31 30 31 55,9%
2019 0 1 31 30 31 30 31 31 30 31 30 31 84,1%
-             ! 
 ! ! !"#$   
%
-&  !'       (  
 !)  !  * +   
 , !!"     )!"+- + . ! 
  !    /  , !!"   
!"$+%

University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Location of INCDPM monitoring systems used for establishing the
ultrasonic tagged sturgeon migration routes & behaviour, on lower Danube River
0    
",  0'
$!!$ !)
.!1)2333
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. 4"  . 
    ' .
  !)$   
)
)4"%
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
78%
15%
3%
1%
The distribution of beluga sturgeon by age and
reproduction cycle, based on INCDPM unique database
The distribution of beluga sturgeon (Huso huso)
by age and reproduction cycle
66%
27%
5%
1%
The distribution of stellate sturgeon by age and
reproduction cycle, based on INCDPM unique database
The distribution of stellate sturgeon (Acipenser
stellatus) by age and reproduction cycle
Monitoring the pressures on sturgeon species survival and conservation on Lower Danube
INCDPM ultrasonic tagged sturgeon poached during 2011-2016
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Sw im m in g d ep th
Example of poaching determination (sturgeon CODE 7S13) using the INCDPM monitoring systems
Detection time
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitoring the pressures on sturgeon species survival and conservation on Lower Danube
Poaching
-Sturgeon specimens are
captured and the tags are
inserted in PET bottles
and threw on the River,
upstream the monitoring
systems;
-INCDPM team helps
authorities intervention in
case of suspected illegal
fishing.
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitoring the pressures on sturgeon species survival and conservation on Lower Danube
Hydrotechnical works (Iron Gates)
#1!&$
5326 .       !  
.'767%8).
   ' 767$ ! . '.    " )
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 !" #$  .   :   "
!%
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitoring the pressures on sturgeon species survival and conservation
on Lower Danube
Hydrotechnical works (Bala Branch)
Monitoring the pressures on sturgeon species survival and conservation
on Lower Danube
Hydrotechnical works (Bala Branch)
General behavior of beluga sturgeon migration monitoring by
NCDPM Sturgeon team
General behavior of beluga sturgeon migration monitoring by
NCDPM Sturgeon team
Specific behavior of 4 beluga sturgeon migration monitoring by
NCDPM Sturgeon team
-23; !  .  , <233+
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-.
!
-&!"  !
!"20!
   0' $ "!  
'%
#

023;
Monitoring by using the VR100 mobile device the sturgeon species
Hydrotechnical works (Bala bottom sill)
<233!)
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Positive impact:
Possible habitats for sturgeon
January – April 2016
INCDPM team monitored (using VR100 mobile device) sturgeon behavior in
real time.
The results showed that 2S19 beluga specimen swam on Bala branch over
a month maybe because were created wintering habitats (both bottom sills
are reducing water velocity, thus sturgeon have adequate conditions to rest.
#

052;
Entrance on Bala Branch Bala Branch
?.
 ?.

Monitoring by using the VR100 mobile device the sturgeon species
Hydrotechnical works (Bala bottom sill)
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Bastroe Channel
0
3
23
53
=3
63
@3
D i s t r ib u t io n ( % )
0
3
23
53
=3
63
@3
Distribution (%)
0
3
23
53
=3
63
@3
Distribution (%)
-@6%2AB
Sulina; 16.67% Sf. Gheorghe; 29.17%
Monitoring the sturgeon species
survival and conservation on Lower
Danube
Hydrotechnical works
(Bastroe Channel)
-During December 2015 – December 2016 ultrasonic tagged specimens migrated to the Black Sea using Chilia branch (54%).
-Beluga sturgeon migrated mostly on Chilia, while stellate sturgeon migrated mostly on Sf. Gheorghe.
-The high percentage of sturgeon that migrated on Chilia branch emphasized the importance of this branch and the necessity of high attention regarding
the Bastroe channel project.
-If the Stambulul vechi branch will be clogged, Chilia and Sulina branches will become
unusable for migration and all sturgeon will use only Sf. Gheorghe branch.
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Monitoring the sturgeon species survival and conservation on Lower Danube
Hydrotechnical works (Bastroe Channel and Bala branch)
-2S19 beluga sturgeon migrated
upstream on Chilia branch
towards reproduction habitats,
and returned to the black Sea
on the same branch.
-During upstream migration, it
passed the bottom sill and
reached km 633.
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Hydrotechnical construction Estimated impact / potential impact
Longitudinal connectivity
interruption
Sturgeon species
habitat
Sturgeon species
population
Iron Gates High impact Medium impact Low impact
Bala Branch Low impact No impact No impact
Bastroe Channel High potential impact Low potential impact High potential impact
The monitoring result regarding the pressures on sturgeon species survival and
conservation on Lower Danube
Iron Gates construction had a high impact on longitudinal connectivity (sturgeon specimens cannot migrate any more upstream Iron Gate I), a
medium impact on their habitat (was reduced the number of habitats) and low impact on species population (the specimens found new reproduction
habitats).
The works performed on Bala branch have a low impact from the point of view of longitudinal connectivity interruption (because of high water discharges)
and no impact on sturgeon species habitat (were created possible wintering habitats) and on population (investigated specimens have chosen for
reproduction habitats located before or after the bottom sill).
Bastroe channel may have a high potential impact on longitudinal connectivity (increased risk of clogging Stambulul Vechi branch), low potential impact on
species habitat (may be reduced the number of habitats) and high potential impact on species population (given the high risk of clogging Stambulul Vechi
branch, the Chilia Branch will become inert).
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Weight measurement
Release Russian sturgeon
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  <2>   +%  &  .   ! )  ' >==  .
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Preserving perspectives
Monitoring juvenile sturgeon specimens – Conservation and restoking program
(2013 – 2016)
Release
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Storage
Anti-poaching tagging
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Release Russian sturgeonRelease
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Anti-poaching tagging
Chilia; 70.59%
Sulina; 13.24%
%:-
2>%27B

3
@
23
2@
53
5@
=3
=@
63
Distribution (%)

3
23
53
=3
63
Distribution (%)

3
23
53
=3
63
Distribution (%)
Preserving perspectives
Juvenile sturgeon specimens monitored by INCDPM team
The results obtained for juvenile sturgeon specimens are unique for Danube River and were obtained through a substantial sustained effort. Thus the
database shows that sturgeon specimens use Chilia branch even more than the adults, thus is emphasized the branch importance.
From our study was revealed that from all three tagged species, Russian sturgeon had the highest probability to migrate towards the Black Sea, 97%
reaching the three branches of the Danube River.
The distribution of tagged juvenile
specimens that migrated to Black Sea
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Release Russian sturgeonRelease
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Anti-poaching tagging
-In 2011 INCDPM has started an ongoing project that has gathered unique results on 4 sturgeon species behavior and 3 species for
migration routes (anadromous species). The Russian sturgeon is critically endangered, close to extinction (in 8 years were
ultrasonic tagged 11 specimens), while the sterlet sturgeon is in the most favorable situation.
-Based on the historical data, the number of captures drastically decreased since 1940’s, fact that continues nowadays, the causes
being multiple without know exactly their nature: irrational fishing and hydrotechnical constructions. As a biodiversity restoration
measures, sturgeon fishing was banned and were performed actions for species repopulation, all this introducing a new pressure:
poaching.
-The observations of INCDPM team, together with the fact that in 1940s sturgeon stocks decreased, lead us to the conclusion that
there may be also another factor, besides Iron Gates, that impacted sturgeon populations, that may hamper restocking actions
efficiency.
-After 2011, INCDPM Bucharest, analyzing the hydro-morphological and climatic conditions from the lower Danube, elaborated and
implemented an unique technique for monitoring sturgeon behavior and migration based on monitoring systems adapted to the
operating environment. The monitoring systems received international recognition and used technique is acoustic telemetry.
Compared to other procedures, the monitoring systems designed and patented by INCDPM ensure a minimal risk of losing data of
major importance in the scientific research of sturgeon migration.
Conclusion and recommendations
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Release Russian sturgeonRelease
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Anti-poaching tagging
-However, from INCDPM data, it can be noticed that the stellate sturgeon is the most frequently found on the lower Danube
and is migrating mostly between April and May. Their migration routes rarely reaches Bala branch or exceed 348 km.
-Up to this moment, it was not possible to establish a sturgeon swimming capacity, but it has been observed that the
average water velocity on the cross-section of the bottom sill, in different periods, exceeds 2-3 m/s. Thus, sturgeon either
have a higher swimming capacity, or they are able to find areas with lower velocities where they can pass the bottom sill
considering its irregular shape. What is certain, is that they have passed over the Bala bottom sill.
-Another factor that may have impact on the sturgeon survival was the construction of Bastroe Channel and dredging works
on Bastroe channel . INCDPM results certify that sturgeon migrate upstream and downstream on Chilia branch. The
clogging of the area downstream of the confluence with Bastroe channel, named Stambulul Vechi, could lead in time to
the sturgeon impossibility to migrate on Chilia branch, and thus, taking into account also the issues of the navigational
Sulina branch, the only unaffected route for sturgeon migration will remain Sf. Gheorghe. This situation can affect even
more sturgeon population in the Danube basin.
-Since the banning commercial fishing, Romania has made efforts in restocking the Danube with juvenile sturgeon from
each species and also for increasing the efficiency of these programs, INCDPM Bucharest has been involved in monitoring
ultrasonic tagged juvenile sturgeon migration in 2015. Thus, for the first time on lower Danube, there have been performed
ultrasonic tagging and monitoring actions of juvenile sturgeon from 633km until they reach Black Sea.
Conclusion and recommendations
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Release Russian sturgeonRelease
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Anti-poaching tagging
-It is recommended intensifying the sturgeon ultrasonic tagging and monitoring for understanding their behavior and migration
routes and ensuring the continuity of tagging actions. Through these studies, will be filled the actual gaps regarding the
understanding how population may be naturally recovered, and also the possibility to assess the efficiency of conserving
measures in order to avoid occurrence of applying the costly and ineffective ones (it is recommended to form international
teams).
-It is advisable to monitor any hydrotechnical construction in order to avoid the risk of interruption the sturgeon migration routes
and to elaborate preventive solutions, taking into account also the climate change scenarios.
-It is also recommended to continue the repopulation with juvenile specimens obtained trough artificial reproduction of the
captured adults from the Danube and to elaborate preventive solutions in order to minimize the pressure regarding the
poaching phenomenon and also a better monitoring for assessment of restocking efficiency.
-It is advisable to form international joint teams that can take immediate actions, in case of emergency, and can study the real
cause that led to sturgeon population depletion on lower Danube, taking into account the fact that Iron Gates were wrongly
considered to have a catastrophic impact, these species being endangered regardless of all the restoking that is made.
-It would be better to intensify Bastroe branch area monitoring in order to avoid the imminent risk occurrence of clogging on
Stambulul Vechi that will have catastrophic implications on sturgeon population.
-It is recommended to apply the monitoring techniques patented by INCDPM team in order to avoid informational volume loss
and the suture technique for minimizing the rate of mortality.
Conclusion and recommendations
University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Gold Medal- European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation - EUROINVENT
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University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
Release Russian sturgeonRelease
Diameter measurement
Tagged Russian sturgeon
Anti-poaching tagging
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University Ovidius
Constanta
9th-10th March 2020
National Institute for Research and Development in Environmental Protection (INCDPM)
Bucharest Adress: $%5;6$>$0$3>33=2$
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Site: www.incdpm.ro
INCDPM's priority is %nding the real causes that led to the
decline of sturgeon in the Lower Danube since it public attracted
attention that, opposite other researchers opinions, the causality of this
disastrous aspect is not entirely due to Iron Gates because remains the
question: Why starlet sturgeon (potamodromus) is missing upstream of
the construction?, besides the fact that it was found a sturgeon
population decline before the construction of Iron Gates.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.