- The Atlantic Sturgeon's "unmistakable splash" is one of the coolest things on the James River this time of year.
To celebrate James River Week, the James River Association (JRA) is providing pontoon boat tours for Atlantic sturgeon viewing trips from Sept. 15 through 18.
The tours are part of JRA's Connect with the James program allowing folks to get off their sofas and on the water, learning about the sturgeons' relationship to the James aboard the Spirit of the James pontoon. Late summer is their typical spawning period.
Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager for JRA, tells Style that the likelihood of seeing a breach is pretty good this time of year.
"The possibility of seeing an Atlantic sturgeon breach out of the James is the coolest thing about these programs. Their unmistakable splashes are unlike any other on the James," he says. "Atlantic sturgeon make their annual fall spawning migration up the James toward the end of summer. Some patience is required."
Regarding safety protocols during the pandemic, Doyle says they are strongly encouraging participants to wear masks and practice social distancing. "Additionally, we are limiting the capacity of our Spirit of the James programs to 11 participants."
From a press release:
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.
Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15 and running through Friday, Sept. 18, JRA staff will be hosting several outings on the Spirit of the James as well as guided canoe trips.
“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 JRA, in a release.
Registration fees support the James River Association, Doyle says. Pontoon boat tickets cost $25 per participant and canoe tickets cost $20 per participant. For more information about The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon and to sign up for an upcoming trip, visit JRA's site.