Combining acoustic tracking and hydrodynamic modelling to study migratory behaviour of Atlantic salmon (Salmo Salar) smolts on entry into high-energy coastal waters

Jason McIlvenny, Benjamin Williamson, Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy, Diego Del Villar-Guerra, Niall R Gauld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Migration from fresh water to the marine environment is a crucial, transitional stage in the development of Atlantic salmon (Salmo Salar). This study used a combination of acoustic tracking, instrument data, and hydrodynamic modelling to examine behaviour of juvenile salmon (smolts) during their transition from fresh water to the marine environment. The study focuses on a high-energy coastal environment in northern Scotland, which is currently being developed for renewable energy extraction and where there is potential for negative impacts on salmon with energy extraction devices and structures. Thirty-four smolts were captured in the River Wick in Caithness and tagged with acoustic tags transmitting at 69 kHz. The Telemac–Mascaret modelling suite was utilized to construct a three-dimensional model of the study area and surrounding waters to estimate smolt-current interactions during detection times. Timing of migration was linked to low-light conditions, with smolts mainly exiting the river at night and when the moon was below the horizon. The movement of most of the tags conformed with modelled tidal currents and the tracks matched modelled marine tidal patterns. Smolts were detected only on a single tide suggesting that they rapidly cleared the vicinity of the receiver array.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Volume78
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • acoustic tracking
  • atlantic salmon
  • hydrodynamic modelling
  • migration

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