The experimental station at Saint-Seurin-sur-l’Isle is a support structure for research into how diadromous migratory fish populations operate and can be restored.

The European sturgeon Acipenser sturio was the first species to be studied using farmed sturgeon, Siberian sturgeon Acipenser baerii, as a biological model. Research into the latter species has also been used to develop a specific sector producing farmed sturgeon and caviar. This has made it possible to transfer the demand for these products from highly endangered wild sturgeons species to aquaculture.

Following observation of the collapse of the European sturgeon population in the 1960s, which continued despite the complete protection of the species in 1982, it seemed that only a full understanding of artificial reproduction for the species based on the incidental capture of broodstock would allow the wild population to be restored. The rarity of reported catches led, from the 1990s, to the acclimatization of juveniles to provide stations with broodstock using station facilities, despite the difficulty and length of this stage in the farming process.


Following the simultaneous capture of two broodfish, in 1995 this station was able to produce 23,000 European sturgeon larvae through artificial propagation, making it possible to raise an initial experimental livestock group and reinforce the acclimatized stock. Since 2007, the station has been able to achieve artificial propagation of the species from wild individuals and individuals raised in captivity. In total, over 1.5 million young sturgeon have been released into the wild, repopulating the rivers of Western Europe. Monitoring released specimens has improved understanding of the species.

In the 2000s, the Saint-Seurin station decided to specialize in "multimigration," developing research into other migratory fish species during relatively long phases of their cycles in order to support observations from the natural environment:

  • Anguilla anguilla European eels with research into migratory behavior, life story study, grading and marking techniques, spatial distribution dynamics, silvering stages and the quality of future breeders.
  • Alosa alosa allis shad with research into artificial propagation of the species and larvae farming, habitat preferences and juvenile markings, grading and environmental changes.
  • Petromyzon marinus sea lamprey and Lampetra fluviatilis European river lamprey with research into larval habitat preferences and specific differentiation criteria.

The station is currently expanding to include new scientific partners and reinforce and update its equipment so that it can improve its observation, environmental and farming conditions. This will give the station new significance, promoting it as one of the leading facilities for experimental research into diadromous migratory fish in Europe and further afield.

The station has a European sturgeon sperm cryobank. This makes it possible to:

  • preserve the wild strain, the long-term genetics of threatened species;
  • optimize growth during propagation;
  • distribute sexual products more easily.


The research station in brief

  • The station is certified to conduct research on animals under no. A33-478-001.
  • Since 1996, the station is part of the GDSAA “Aquitaine aquaculture health defense group.”
  • Signatory to the AquaREA Charter® created on the initiative of the GDSAA and based on the Aquitaine Regional Council’s AREA (Environmentally Friendly Agriculture in Aquitaine) program.
  • It has an on-site legal representative.
  • All employees are authorized to carry out experiments.

Technical facilities:

Breeding facilities (A. sturio)

Sturio 1 Building (closed system):

  • 5 tanks for reproduction
  • 4 tanks for growing phase (80 m3 total volume)
  • 1 infirmary
Experimental station – Sturio 1 © Irstea, Romain Tillaut

Sturio 2 Building (closed system):

11 tanks (total volume 330 m3) dedicated to broodstock and juvenile conservation

Experimental station – Sturio 2 © Irstea, E. Rochard

Alosa Hall (pre-growing and growing phase in river water):

  • 20 tanks measuring 2 to 6 m in diameter
  • Experimental facilities
Experimental station – Alosa © Irstea, A. Marquot

Anguilla Hall:

  • 3 experimental rooms
  • 1 prey production room
  • 1 operating room
  • 1 quarantine room
Experimental station – Anguilla © Irstea, Romain Tillaut

Palaemon Building:

  • 3 speed rings (scola devices)
  • 1 technical room to drive automated devices
Experimental station – Palaemon © Irstea, Romain Tillaut

Lampetra Hall:

9 tanks for river water experiments

Experimental station – Lampetra © Irstea, A. Marquot

Liza Building:

  • 1 hatchery with incubators and feeders to breed larvae and tanks 2 m in diameter
  • 2 automated farming systems
  • 2 laboratories equipped with measuring equipment
Experimental station – Liza © Irstea, Romain Tillaut

Salmo Hall:

  • 3 artificial rivers
  • 1 raceway to produce natural prey
  • 8 concrete raceways to preserve biological models
Experimental station – Salmo © Irstea, Romain Tillaut

Water supply:

The water supply is provided by:

  • River water (1000 m3/h – 5 to 26°C)
  • Deep water pump (200 m3/h – 18°C)
  • Stored seawater (90 m3)

Station map

Experimental station – hydraulic system © Irstea, R. Fraty


SCOLA: Experimental Structure for the Study of Larval Behavior
Using this structure, studies have been carried out on young migratory fish: eels, shad, sturgeon, etc.
A new generation of the SCOLA experimental structure is being built to improve our understanding of the dispersal and sedentation processes for these young fish.





Saint-Seurin-sur-l'Isle Experimental Station
Moulin de la logerie 
33, rue Alfred de Vigny
33660 Saint-Seurin-sur-l'Isle
Tel: +33 (0)5 57 49 67 59
Fax: +33 (0)5 57 49 66 01

Station manager: Patrick Chèvre +33 (0)5 57 49 67 59

Getting there

itinerary map for getting to the station