Research, development, and field testing of a new fish tracking system

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  • Design techniques are presented for a very high frequency telemetry system capable of transmitting short radio frequency pulse signals from the body of a fish to an aircraft flying over a river. The system design has considered the water chemistry and river turbulence of the Athabasca River in the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program study area and five specie of fish indigenous to that region. Surgical implant procedures are described and preliminary field test results are presented. Radio transmitters were designed as superior to ultrasonic transmitters to monitor seasonal migration patterns of fish in the Athabasca River system. Radio transmitters at a frequency of 150 MHz will permit interrogation of radio tagged fish by aircraft fitted with a three element yagi antenna pointed downward when mounted under the wing of a light aircraft. A sealed, lithium primary battery was the chosen power source of a transmitter with an 8 to 10 millisecond pulse length and a pulse interval of one pulse per second. Field surgical procedures reduced stresses imposed on laboratory held experimental fish. Preliminary field tests indicated interrogation of radio tagged fish with a light aircraft was feasible.

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