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Development of external and neutrally buoyant acoustic transmitters for juvenile salmon turbine passage evaluation

Deng, Z. Daniel, Martinez, Jayson J., Colotelo, Alison H., Abel, Tylor K., LeBarge, Andrea P., Brown, Richard S., Pflugrath, Brett D., Mueller, Robert P., Carlson, Thomas J., Seaburg, Adam G., Johnson, Robert L., Ahmann, Martin L.
Fisheries research 2012 v.113 no.1 pp. 94-105
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, acoustics, monitoring, mortality, salmon, telemetry, turbines, water power, watersheds, Columbia River
Fish can sustain injury or mortality when they pass through hydroelectric facilities. To develop a method to monitor the passage and survival of juvenile salmonids without bias through turbines within the Federal Columbia River Power System, we developed and fabricated two designs of neutrally buoyant transmitters: Type A (sutured to the dorsal musculature of the fish anterior to the dorsal fin) and Type B (two-part design attached with wire pushed through the dorsal musculature, ventral to the dorsal fin). To determine the efficacy of the two designs under non-turbine passage-related conditions, fish had one of the tags attached and were held for 14 days to determine any potential effects of the tags on growth, survival and tissue damage. We also evaluated the attachment method by monitoring tag retention. These two neutrally buoyant tag designs were compared to nontagged individuals and those surgically implanted with current Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) transmitters and passive integrated responder (PIT) tags. In addition, two suture materials (Monocryl and Vicryl Rapide) were tested for attachment of Type A tags. When compared with non-tagged individuals, fish tagged with Type A tags did not differ significantly with respect to growth or mortality over a 14-d holding period. However, fish tagged with Type B transmitters had lower growth rates than the nontagged controls or other tag treatments. The efficacy of two designs was also compared to nontagged individuals under shear exposure. Fish were exposed to a submerged, 6.35-cm-diameter water jet at velocities ranging from 3.0 to 12.2m/s in a water flume to simulate turbine conditions within the Columbia River basin. Throughout the shear exposure study, no mortalities or tag loss were observed. There was also no significant difference in the rates of shear injury between untagged fish and fish tagged with Type A or Type B tags. When tissue damage was assessed for tagged individuals exposed to shear forces, those tagged with Type A tags showed lower rates and severity of injury when compared to Type B-tagged fish. Overall, Type A tags may be a viable tag design for juvenile Chinook salmon passing through hydropower facilities.