The Army Corps of Engineers opens the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway when the Mississippi River is running high. The spillway is designed to protect New Orleans and levees downriver.
Caught up in the rush of the water are thousands of fish including federally endangered fish like the paddle fish and sturgeon. As the water recedes, these fish are trapped in shallow ponds.
Army Corps of Engineer Park Ranger Rusty Munson was alerted to three trapped sturgeon. Munson arrives before they die from a lack of oxygen. If they look prehistoric, they are. Munson says sturgeon have been around since before the dinosaurs.
Munson says, “These are Chelvenose sturgeon. Basically I am going to get a length on them, a weight on them, get an external tag, and then release them into the river..”“We tag fish here in the spillway. We tagged one here in 2008 when they opened they opened the Spillway back up in 2011, captured the same sturgeon. Last year we tagged 160. This year we recaptured two of those..” “These tags have a 1-800 number. If someone catches one, they can call and report where they caught it and how big it was…”
Munson says so far in 2020, they’ve tagged 37 federally protected sturgeon and safely returned them to the Mississippi River.