The sprint swimming performance (Vmax) of twenty-five adult wild shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) was studied in an outdoor experimental flume at four conditions consisting of two temperatures (12 °C and 19 °C) and two flows (High and Low). The fastest maximum velocity (Vmax) achieved in an individual trial was 3.73 m s-1, which is the greatest sprint velocity ever reported for a sturgeon species. The mean (SD) Vmax by trial was 2.94 (0.56) m s-1 for the Low Velocity 12 °C trial, 2.13 (0.50) m s-1 for the Low Velocity 19 °C trial, 3.01 (0.47) m s-1 for the High Velocity 12 °C trial, and 3.21 (0.88) m s-1 for the High Velocity 19 °C trial. We did not detect a statistically significant difference in swim speeds among the trials. Individual shovelnose sturgeon performed maximum sprint speeds ranging from 1.29 to 3.73 m s-1. Shovelnose sturgeon were able to reach maximum velocities for only a fraction of a second before returning to slower velocities, and often recorded multiple peaks in velocity throughout the course of a swim. The sprint velocities from our laboratory study indicate that the swimming capability of shovelnose sturgeon and possibly other sturgeon species is underestimated. The results of this study provide data that might support design and analysis of fish passage projects for shovelnose sturgeon and other sturgeon species.
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Vol. 92 • No. 1