Friday December 9, 2022


In a boat floating on San Pablo Bay, Emily Miller prepared her scalpel. Just 15 feet below, her quarry lurked in the murk, probing the mud with its dangling chin-whiskers, searching for clams to guzzle whole with its toothless, tube-shaped mouth. A net loomed behind it, ready to snag the behemoth.

Sturgeons are notoriously stealthy, their journeys elusive. Miller’s mission was to implant fish with acoustic transmitters, which tracked them as they traveled throughout the watershed. She especially wanted to understand the migration and lifestyle differences between the Bay Area’s two resident species, green and white sturgeon, both of which are at risk from human activities. 

“Sturgeon are the redwoods or the sequoias of San Francisco Bay,” says Levi Lewis, a migratory fish researcher at UC Davis. They’re big, old and threatened—and, Lewis added, a part of California’s natural heritage and identity. 

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