Loading





id = "FBMainForm_29925244" action="/research-in-the-field.html" method = "post" onsubmit = "return false" >
Research - In the Field Search  

« Previous 1 of 9 Next »
 
Postcards from the Ledge
by Graham on 

Graham downloading receiver data after a long day in the field.Mike Best and I found ourselves with a short window of opportunity this morning. That window had to do with the weather forecast for Miramichi Bay. We've been eager to get the gear out now that the fish that are passing in either direction have done so. There is always potential that gear is lost or damaged when in the field, and despite the many bits of gear that have returned to us in the past two months, we didn't want to take any chances.

 

This morning we piled in the truck and headed north on a beautiful day. We had a few stops to make, including the collection of receivers in the Main Southwest Miramichi. These receiver locations are new this year and will help us further narrow down areas of danger for smolts on their downstream migration.

 

The afternoon found us heading for Escuminac just outside of Miramichi Bay. We launched into calm seas and warm sunshine. For a change, the weather did last for us. Often we find ourselves trying to retrieve and download gear  in heaving waves and the pouring rain, but today everything worked out perfectly.

 

We'll be on the river tomorrow to check on what fish have returned and to collect a bit of equipment. It looks like the weather will hold for the long weekend so we should be in for a fine day on the Miramichi.

 

Graham Chafe, ASF Research

 

 

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Tag Retention and Tags Returning.
by Graham on 

A view of Miramichi Bay showing the locations of our acoustic receivers.A few things have been going on with the Research Department this week.  The fishway on the Magaguadavic is set up for salmon now and running for its second week. We completed the last sampling of the fish in our Tag Retention study and Jason will be hard at work analysing that data. It will be used to factor into our models for smolt survival using the data we get from the acoustic receivers.

 

On the topic of receivers, it is the time of year when we begin to think about collecting some of them. Mike Best and I will be retrieving the receivers from Miramichi Bay next week. We will also download the river receivers, though they will be left in for a while longer. Holly Labadie from the Miramichi Salmon Association has been downloading the Cassillis receiver every couple of days to keep an eye out for returning fish . So far, four fish tagged in May of this year have returned up river. All four had acoustic tags, not the satellite tags. Nice to see some consecutive spawners in the river.

 

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Building Bridges and Fences
by Graham on 

Jon Carr making a presentation on Miramichi smolt trackingThe 3rd International Conference on Fish Telemetry is being held this week in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Director of Research Jon Carr and I are attending. There is a fascinating group of biologists from around the globe here to discuss issues, methods and share results. We've seen many presentations on current research topics that all have some component of telemetry, using acoustic or radio signals to track fish. We've learned how acoustic telemetry is helping to keep Australian beach-goers aware of sharks  in swimming areas as well as how conger eels are using the habitat left in the wake of the Fukushima earthquake and resulting tsunami. Jonathan Carr, Executive Director of Research at ASF, made an excellent presentation on the Miramichi smolt tracking projects. With about 250 scientists and students in attendance, we've met many interesting people with whom we can now share tricks of the trade.

 

Graham Chafe, Lewis Hinks and Jon Carr, all of the ASF, at the resistance counting fence on the West River near Sheet Harbour.While we were here, we took the opportunity to meet up with ASF Director for Nova Scotia and PEI Lewis Hinks and take a trip out to the West River - Sheet Harbour to view a counting fence. The fence is a model we have not seen in this area and is different from the usual rigid metal conduit counting fences in the Maritimes. The staff operating the fence for the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Ryan and Shona, showed us how the fence was constructed with PVC piping instead of metal. It is also assembled and attached to the bottom in a way that allows it to move up and down with the water level. When objects come downstream in higher water, they can usually move right over, or are much easier to push over. This means that the fence does not need to be removed in flood conditions like standard fences do. It allows simultaneous up and downstream counting of fish as well, further increasing its usefulness. The project was supported by the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and will provide a glimpse into the status of stocks of salmon on this river.

 

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Another Needle, Another Haystack.
by Graham on 

In a month of lucky finds, a second of our satellite pop-off tags has been found far away from where we released the fish carrying it. On May 10th, 2014, we tagged a 93cm, 6.1kg kelt in the Red Bank area on the Northwest Miramichi. This fish descended the river and spent the next month in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence before heading to the North Atlantic via the Strait of Belle Isle. It wandered out to the edge of the continental shelf briefly before heading back somewhat closer to the coast of Labrador. At the northern tip of the province, it headed in a generally eastern direction to Greenland's western coast where is spent the month of September. On the 30th, the tag popped off the fish as it was programmed to do. It then transmitted its recorded data to the ASF via ARGOS satellites. The fish was alive and well at the time of pop-off.

 

For the next three weeks, we were able to watch as the tag drifted out on the open sea between Greenland and Baffin Island, then the battery died and transmissions ceased. A couple of weeks ago, it was found on the shores of Greenland in Disko Bay (Diskobugten in Danish). The folks who spotted it also noticed our contact information and kindly got in touch with us. While this tag did transmit most of its data, there is more to be downloaded from a retrieved tag than can possibly be accessed through transmissions from a small unit floating on the ocean. So we'll gain even more information on the habits and habitats of this particular fish thanks to the people who found it and are sending it back to New Brunswick. We appreciate the help.

 

Another one of our tags, also from 2014, was found on the shores of Ireland a month ago by a family on vacation. We're hoping to get that one back too once they return home and can send it back to us.

 

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Pop Goes the Satellite Tag
by Graham on 

Map showing the current locations of four of ASF's satellite tags in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.So far in June, four of the eleven pop-up satellite tags we attached to Northwest Miramichi salmon kelts have begun transmitting. These tags measure light, depth and temperature while they are on the fish and use some of that data to calculate a position for each day that they are deployed. Unlike similar, but much smaller, tags on terrestrial or avian animals, they cannot communicate with satellites on a day to day basis. In order to do so they must be released from the fish and float to the surface. So they store the data until a pre-determined date when they pop off and begin transmissions.

Our tags for 2015 are programmed to pop off at the end of August, September or October. The other reason a tag will pop is if the fish's depth does not change for four days. We know from previous data that this is not at all typical behaviour of salmon kelts, so when a tag pops early, like these four have, it suggests that they have died for some reason. Once the reams of data have been initially analyzed, we can sometimes tell if that mortality occurred from a predator or not.

Two fo the four tags popped in the general vicinity of the Iles de la Madeleine. They were possibly headed toward the NW Atlantic. The other two were off the northern tip of PEI, directly east of Miramichi Bay. This would suggest, though it is an educated guess at this point, that they were attempting to return to spawn again this year. While it is unfortunate that these fish have likely died, they carried the tags long enough for us to further investigate their movements in the early part of their ocean migration, before they either go to the NW Atlantic or return to spawn. This will be invaluable in understanding what habitats are critical for Atlantic salmon off our shores.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Short Fish, Long Migration
by Graham on 

Graham Chafe and Jason Daniels tagging alewife on the St Croix River.This week has been mostly about the St. Croix River. This river runs in the southwest part of New Brunswick and forms the border with the United States for some distance. Jon Carr and I tagged 29 alewife in the past week, with the help of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the St. Croix International Waterway Commission. The fish were sampled at the counting trap on top of the fish ladder at the Milltown Dam. Once acoustically tagged, they were released about 800m upstream with a larger school of fish. Tracking in 2014 and now this year will help us understand how these anadromous fish are re-colonizing the upper reaches of the river that were previously blocked to fish passage.

In addition to the tagging, I took part in the St. Croix International Waterway Commission's annual public meeting in St. Stephen. I presented on the counts at the fish ladder as well as summarizing our tracking results from last year and updating the activities for 2015. Members of the public proved to be interested and well-informed about their river. As of Wednesday morning, just over 58,000 alewife had been counted at Milltown. That is a significant  increase over recent years by this date. It is an encouraging of the recovery of this population.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Help from Anglers and Beach-Goers
by Graham on 

A Satellite tag and two sizes of acoustic tags.In the past week we've received unexpected and welcome news. Three people have contacted us regarding equipment they have chanced upon. One receiver and two tags were found. Though we haven't examined the receiver yet, we believe it is from our Chaleur line and was found near Miscou. Sometimes props or commercial fishing equipment can become entangled and cut a receiver loose. Sometimes luck is on our side and they are found again. Then the data can be extracted and they do not need to be replaced.

Yesterday, an angler contacted me about a tag  discovered on a kelt he had caught and released on the Northwest Miramichi. When he noticed the tag, he recorded the number and alerted the ASF. It turns out it was a Department of Fisheries and Oceans tag, but we passed along the information.

The third tag is perhaps the most interesting, it was discovered on a beach far, far away by someone one vacation. Until they return from vacation, I won't receive all the information, but I will update the blog with the details when possible.

Everyone can help us out by alerting us when they chance upon a piece of equipment that has washed ashore or angle a fish with a tag. The information gained from someone who angles a tagged fish, whether or not they release it, is very valuable. It can help place the fish in time and space relative to our monitoring equipment. All of our tags and monitoring equipment have phone numbers or email addresses on them. If you find yourself with a tag or equipment, please record the date, time and location found as well as the serial and/or ID number. Any further information regarding the condition of the fish or circumstances of the discovery can help as well. We will happily come and pick it up or arrange for postage.

Thanks for your help.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Tagging a Ride to the Sea
by Graham on 

Shawna Wallace releases tagged smolt on the Main Southwest Miramichi.

Tagging continued this week on both the Main Southwest and Northwest branches of the Miramichi River. Steve Tinker and Shawna Wallace tagged 80 smolt from the Southwest at Rocky Brook. Steve has been tagging Rocky Brook smolt for 14 years and is ending his tagging career this season.  

 

On the other end of the spectrum, Holly Labadie, biologist with the Miramichi Salmon Association, put her tagging training to the test on the Northwest Miramichi with the help of Malcolm Little and ASF Biologist, Jason Daniels. The tagging of 80 smolt on the Northwest was completed Tuesday.

 

Malcolm Little and Scott Roloson, student researchers assisting ASF, are actively tracking the newly tagged smolt on the Miramichi.

 

In non-salmon Research Department news, receiver deployment on the St. Croix river has started for the second year to track alewife movement. Alewife tagging will begin in early June.

 

Finally, congratulations go out to Graham Chafe, the regular blog author, who spent this week welcoming his newborn daughter, Lucy.

 

Shawna Wallace and Jason Daniels, ASF Research

 

 

 

 

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Moving Along After the May Long.
by Graham on 

Alewife moving through the fishway on the Magaguadavic River.The long weekend has come and gone and saw many anglers on the water. The alewife also arrived on the scene on the Magaguadavic River this weekend. We started fishing the fishway trap in St. George early last week. We hadn't seen anything as of Friday, but on Saturday the alewife had begun to run. Those in the trap were gently lifted over and we altered the water path to allow free access to river for the thousands of alewife yet to arrive. Once the run has passed sometime in June, we'll begin fishing the trap again to count wild salmon ascending the river and to watch for any escapees that may find their way there.

The weekend also saw Mike Best deploying the receivers across the Baie des Chaleurs. Now all the monitoring equipment is out for the Restigouche and Miramichi kelts and smolts in Maritime waters. The Strait of Belle Isle line will go in in June.

Steve Tinker and Shawna Wallace are spending a few days at Rocky Brook on the Main Southwest Miramichi tagging smolts. They should have met their quota by the end of the week. Jason Daniels is working with Miramichi Salmon Association staff on the Northwest tagging smolts, monitoring the smolt wheel and other duties. Once the tagged smolts are released, they'll be live tracking the fish as they move down river. This involves using a portable receiver to investigate areas between our regular equipment. Long days on the water but they'll likely have sunburns and smiles by the time they're done.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

Big Projects, Big Waves.
by Graham on 

Releasing a satellite tagged kelt.For the second weekend in a row, ASF and Miramichi Salmon Association staff were tagging kelts on the Northwest Miramichi. Members of the Moncton Fish and Game Association were a big help with both angling and support for the program. They, and other volunteers encountered some great fishing, some slow fishing, enjoyed the sunshine and persevered through the rain and wind. Not all fish that were hooked ended up with a tag of course, more than a few escaped lines at the last minute. The biggest fish of the weekend even leapt straight from a live box back into the river, escaping the clutches of two expert anglers on the way. Of course no witnesses were present to confirm its 'massive' size...


Elsewhere, Jon Carr was also tagging kelts on the Restigouche River. The receivers, equipment that records the tagged fish as they pass, have been put out in the Campbelton, Dalhousie Junction and Dalhousie areas by ASF staff, Listiguj Rangers, the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council staff over the past few days. They dealt with high winds and rough waters in some areas, but managed to successfully deploy all the gear as planned.


A special thanks to the volunteers and project supporters on both rivers. Without them and their considerable efforts, we wouldn't be able to continue such wide-ranging and important projects for the conservation of Atlantic salmon.

The Chaleur and Strait of Belle Isle receiver lines are all that is left for our regular smolt and kelt tracking project deployments. The Chaleur line should go in early next week when the weather calms down, the fish aren't likely to arrive there until the end of next week. The Strait of Belle Isle line isn't deployed until mid-June due to conditions, and the fact that it is 700km from the Miramichi and Restigouche receivers, the fish take a bit to get there so we have a bit of time to play with.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

Comments     Permalink     Add Comment

« Previous 1 of 9 Next »
 
RSS Feed