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Intracoelomic Acoustic Tagging of Juvenile Sockeye Salmon: Swimming Performance, Survival, and Postsurgical Wound Healing in Freshwater and during a Transition to Seawater

Collins, Alison L., Hinch, Scott G., Welch, David W., Cooke, Steven J., Clark, Timothy D.
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 2013 v.142 no.2 pp. 515-523
Oncorhynchus nerka, acoustics, freshwater, juveniles, lakes, mortality, probability, salmon, seawater, smolts, surgery, swimming, tissue repair, British Columbia
Juvenile hatchery-reared Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka from Cultus Lake, British Columbia, were implanted during their smolt phase with one of three sizes of dummy acoustic tags to assess how tag burden (tag mass: body mass ratios ranging from 1.3% to 13.6% in air) influenced prolonged swimming performance, survival, and postsurgical wound healing in freshwater for up to 16.5 d and following a transition to seawater for 9 d. Tagged fish were compared with surgical shams and control fish (no tag, no surgery). Fish subjected to sham surgery treatments had mean swim times similar to those of control fish; however, tagged fish had a significantly lower probability of swimming the mean time of nontagged control fish. In addition, we found that the effect of tagging on swimming performance was exacerbated by tag burden and that higher tag burdens decreased the swimming performance of tagged individuals. Fish with tag burdens ≥8% had shorter swimming durations than fish with tag burdens <8%. The incisions of fish implanted with smaller tags healed more quickly than those of fish implanted with the largest tag. Overall, survival was high (≥95%) and in freshwater mortalities only occurred in fish that had tag burdens greater than 6%. These findings have important implications for studies using tagging technologies to examine the behavior and survival of migrating salmon smolts.