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King Salmon Video Highlights Value, High-Tech Fish Tracking

Caleb Durand traveled from Waterbury, Vt., to catch this salmon in Lake Ontario near Oswego.

Caleb Durand traveled from Waterbury, Vt., to catch this salmon in Lake Ontario near Oswego.

OSWEGO, NY – New York Sea Grant has released a video highlighting the value of king salmon to the Lake Ontario ecosystem and local economies, and how Cornell University researchers and Sea Grant personnel are using pop-off satellite archival tags developed to work in freshwater to collect unprecedented data about salmon movement and behavior.

Free access to the video is posted at https://youtu.be/pb4wJQc-O7A.

Caleb Durand traveled from Waterbury, Vt., to catch this salmon in Lake Ontario near Oswego.
Caleb Durand traveled from Waterbury, Vt., to catch this salmon in Lake Ontario near Oswego.

New York Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist Jesse Lepak wrote and narrated the 3-minute video that shows the tagging process and highlights the value of the data collected by the tags.

“These freshwater pop-off tags allow for a unique view into the behavior of the fish and will provide data of interest to researchers, aquatic resource managers and anglers,” Lepak said.

“For example, the tags are equipped with accelerometers indicating when the fish are swimming quickly to catch prey. Sea Grant will be sharing that information with the recreational anglers and charter services that are key economic drivers of the Lake Ontario regional economy,” Lepak said.

A tag that was placed on a mature salmon on July 13 in waters near Oswego was detected on August 31 near Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, 90 miles away.

That tag was recovered and contains data, including depth, temperature, and accleration for the fish recorded at one-second intervals for 49 days.

Read more about this in the Cornell Chronicle: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2017/09/satellite-tags-researchers-track-protect-lake-ontario-king-salmon.

With funding from New York Sea Grant, Dr. James M. Watkins with the Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, Ithaca, NY, and biologist Dr. Christopher Perle of Florida State College, Jacksonville, Fla., are analyzing the data from the tags that can provide up to 90 days of tracking information.

New York Sea Grant will be sharing sharing insights on salmon behavior from the high-tech fish tagging project with charter services that help driver the Lake Ontario regional economy.
New York Sea Grant will be sharing sharing insights on salmon behavior from the high-tech fish tagging project with charter services that help driver the Lake Ontario regional economy.

“With this tagging process, the fish become lake profilers. For example, data from the tags will track how closely the salmon follow their water temperature preference of 42 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and when they choose to leave that preferred temperature to enter either warmer or colder waters in search of forage,” said Watkins.

Perle, who has been involved in marine electronic tagging research in the Pacific Ocean, said, “Fresh water presents new challenges technologically for electronic pop-up tags. This Sea Grant project will not only provide information about king salmon as a key predator in the ecology of Lake Ontario, it is an opportunity to evaluate a new tag designed specifically for fresh water.”

Two Lake Ontario charter fishing services assisted the production of the “Learning More About Lake Ontario’s King Salmon” video.

Fish Doctor Charters Captain Ernie Lantiegne, a retired New York State DEC fishery biologist, said, “King salmon are the big draw for anglers in Lake Ontario and the main engine for its mult-imillion dollar salmonid fishery.”

Rochester Sport Fishing Charter Captain Kim Mammano agreed, “The king salmon fishery of Lake Ontario can be seen as an an invaluable resource, and sustaining this world-class fishery should remain a priority for years to come.”

New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For updates on New York Sea Grant Great Lakes and marine district activities, www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links.

King Salmon Quick Facts:
. King salmon are also called Chinook salmon.
. King salmon grow larger in Lake Ontario than any other Great Lake. They can reach lengths of more than 3 feet and weights of 30-plus pounds.
. King salmon were introduced into Lake Ontario to help control overabundant alewife prey fish populations in the 1960s and 1970s.