Species Recovery Grant

Pamunkey Indian Tribe Sturgeon Species Recovery Grant

Through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Permit #19642, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, and Chesapeake Scientific, LLC consulted by Christian Hager, PhD will help assess, and recover the finfish, Atlantic Sturgeon.

Here, you will read the highlights and project updates, along with basic history of the Atlantic Sturgeon and their connection to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. You will also see the data of where and when the Sturgeon come and go throughout the Pamunkey River.

We want to thank NOAA, Chesapeake Scientific, LLC, and Christian Hager for their outstanding partnership, hard work and invaluable data!

Sturgeon Drawing by Kirk Moore, Pamunkey member.

Sturgeon drawing by Pamunkey member, Kirk Moore.


The Atlantic Sturgeon are pre-historical finfish that date back to over 200 million years ago. With the great abundance in the 1600’s and 1800’s, they had given the Pamunkey people a huge resource for the tribe. It was the supply to feed during starving winters, and they held a spiritual significance for the Pamunkey young men. If caught single handedly, it was proven their step into manhood. Which then, the Pamunkey tribe would hold annual ceremonies and introduce the Sturgeon to their young. And to remind you, Atlantic Sturgeon can weigh up to 800lbs!

Sturgeon laying out on the Pamunkey River bank

Sturgeon laying out on the Pamunkey River bank.


In 2012, Atlantic Sturgeon were listed as Endangered or Threatened throughout the United States under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), due to over fishing, evasive marine animals, and pollution in rivers. In 2013, Sturgeon were found spawning in the Pamunkey and Mattaponi River, making a comeback upriver (Hager et al.2014.)


The vision is to get an overall estimate on the abundance of the small adult population by tagging the fish with PIT tags, and tracking their routes. Chesapeake Scientific, the U.S. Navy (USN) have been conducting this the past 6 years and have concluded a decent track record of their whereabouts and difficult streaming routes. The duration of this project is July-November, 2018-2020.


Click the link below to access the Pamunkey Indian Tribe Sturgeon Grant.

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