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Use of Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar to Monitor Adult River Herring in a Small Coastal Stream

Magowan, K., Reitsma, J. and Murphy, D.

Abstract

A standard dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) was deployed in the Herring River, Harwich, Massachusetts, for 3 d in late April 2011 to capture video-like images of migrating adult river herring (alewife Alosa pseudoharengus and blueback herring Alosa aestivalis). Images recorded 24 h a day were used to manually count and assign species based on DIDSON images of fish size, shape, and behavior. From these counts, the run size was estimated to be 1,976–2,059 individuals during the study. At first, river herring often hesitated to swim through the sample area where the weirs and DIDSON were deployed; however, they eventually did pass, often multiple times. This unique hesitation behavior complicated counting efforts, though it was beneficial to discerning species using DIDSON images. In addition, extremely shallow water upstream of the study site, lack of tree cover, and a high threat of avian predation likely contributed to river herring milling activity at the study site. By providing many clear images of river herring, DIDSON proved to be an effective type of sonar with which to monitor and count river herring continuously in a small coastal stream.