Smolt Tracking

ASF's Smolt Tracking Program vr2

ASF’s smolt tracking work has expanded from following smolts down rivers into a program examining their entire migration routes and seeking answers to the mystery of increased marine mortality that has occurred over the past two decades.

In 2013, ASF's latest tracking season began with field staff deploying receivers in the Miramichi and Restigouche Rivers in April. This was followed by  inserting transmitters into both smolts and kelts from the watersheds of the Miramichi, Restigouche and Cascapedia rivers.

In addition to acountic transmitters, a number of kelts on the Miramichi were fitted with satellite tags that will release in Sept. and transmit data at that time.

For an overview of some of the field work to follow smolts in 2013, click here. This is a May 2013  entry in ASF's Rivernotes blog.

ASF's Steve Tinker surgically implanting sonic transmitter into smolt. May 2012SUMMARY for 2012

Last year's tagging program included the following number of tagged smolts:

80   Miramichi
105 Restigouche
65   Cascapedia

Besides these smolts, 35 migrating kelts were also implanted with sonic transmitters.  Ten of these kelts also had satellite tags that will pop off and transmit data after they have been at sea for five months.

Going the Distance

ASF has now tracked Atlantic salmon more than half the distance between NB and QC rivers and Greenland feeding grounds.

Equally important, there is data over multiple years, allowing for a better understanding of the numbers of smolt that survive through each stage of their migration

The research has shown that some smolt moved at up to 25km per day from home rivers, including the Restigouche and Grand Cascapedia, to be passing through the Strait of Belle Isle in early July.

New Opportunities

In addition to ASF's programs, the Ocean Tracking Network, headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, completed the Cabot Strait line of receivers in 2012, and a continental shelf line of receivers from near Halifax to the edge of the continental shelf.

In 2013 a  "wave glider" detection system will be launched (for a second year) off the western coast of Newfoundland and has on board a modified receiver that can pick up smolts travelling along the Newfoundland coast toward the Strait of Belle Isle.