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Students from Gap Creek Elementary to help with this conservation effort!

What: Biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will release 1,000 lake sturgeon on Thursday, October 8. This reintroduction will take place near Knoxville at the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. This location on the French Broad River has been identified as favorable habitat for this species, Acipenser fulvescens,  which is listed as endangered within Tennessee’s waters.

Students from a 5th grade class at Gap Creek Elementary in Knoxville are very excited to help with this release. They have been caring for a juvenile lake sturgeon since the beginning of the school year. Each day the Gap Creek students record data about the fish including feedings, water temperature, pH, ammonia levels, length and behavioral observations. These hands-on classroom activities and assisting with this release increases their understanding of freshwater conservation. They also discover how the health of the river and human health are connected.

The Tennessee Aquarium and its partners have reintroduced more than 181,000 Lake Sturgeon to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers since the reintroductions began 15 years ago. The goal of the long-term “Saving the Sturgeon” program is to restore a self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon in Tennessee. So far this effort has proven very successful with anglers reporting these fish downstream in Alabama and Kentucky. Biologists have also been encouraged by recent surveys to monitor the population between Knoxville and Chattanooga. They have also been gathering additional information through sonic tags and an array of listening stations between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

TVA has been a member of the group working to restore the population of Lake Sturgeon in the Tennessee River since the program’s inception. TVA's overall partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium has grown, with TVA providing financial support for propagation, education, and outreach efforts, including radio tracking technology.  The Tennessee River is recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot and restoring the Lake Sturgeon with a viable, sustainable population is a goal that all partners share to help protect this biologically rich region.

This year’s class of Lake Sturgeon have been growing to a releasable size of more than five inches. These fish are true river giants. Some may grow to more than eight feet in length. Lake sturgeon have also been known to live nearly 150 years, feeding mainly on bottom dwelling crayfishes, mussels, aquatic insect larvae and small fishes.

Who: Biologists from TNACI, TVA, TWRA, and Gap Creek Elementary students.

When /Where: Thursday, October 8th at Noon at the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge public boat ramp. Go to: for maps and directions.

The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) is the conservation and research arm of the Tennessee Aquarium, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) institution. As leaders in freshwater conservation, TNACI’s mission is to conserve and restore native aquatic animals and their habitats within the richly bio-diverse Southeast United States.

The “Saving the Sturgeon” working partners are:

  • Conservation Fisheries, Inc.
  • Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
  • Tennessee Tech University
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • World Wildlife Fund

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