Research - In the Field hourly 1 1970-01-01T00:00+00:00 Everyone is Interested in Salmon. <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">ASF Research staff tend to spend a lot of time in front of computers during the winter. After all, we spent the warmer months deploying and collecting equipment and the resulting data. The winter gives us time to analyze things, write reports and prepare for the next season, which always comes sooner than expected.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="650" daid="17930874" src='//' height="365" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Sometimes we get away from the office though, and recently I was asked to give a presentation on our work in Saint John. The Lancaster Golden Service Club is a non-profit retired men's fellowship that engages in community work and offers support for local children's charities. They meet once a week at the Royal Canadian Lancaster Legion #69 in Saint John West to conduct their business, plan and socialize. They also invite people to present on a wide variety of topics, and this is how I came to be there.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">A few were salmon anglers but all were interested and informed. Many had questions and concerns relating to the state of salmon in our province. It was a great morning where I spoke for a little while and showed photographs of our business and had several conversations with members about their experiences with salmon or New Brunswick rivers and the environment in general.They said they'd like to have me back in a year or two, I hope to be able to update them on our ongoing projects and with new results.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2019-02-06T08:06:35-08:00 Everyone is Interested in Salmon. Tucked Away for Winter <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">The pace of many activities has slowed down here in the ASF Research Department. Basically all the field work for the year has been done for a month or more and we're starting to look ahead to next season. We've winterized our boats and brought them inside for the cold season where they'll be ready to go next time they are called to action. We're still visiting the upstream passage facility on the Magaguadavic River a couple of times a week, but not too much is happening there. We'll continue to do so until mid-December when we'll wrap it up for the 2018 and bypass the research trap so any fish attempting to ascend into the river are free to do so.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17901791" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">That doesn't mean, of course, that the staff is settling in for hibernation. We're hard at work with data from 2018. Data has to be sorted and stored, analysis has to happen and reports written. Meanwhile, plans are afoot for the 2019 season, which will, as always, sneak up on us pretty quickly. The fish in the river may be slowing down with the dropping temperatures, but we're not. <br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i></div><div class="plain"><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-11-29T07:08:21-08:00 Tucked Away for Winter Blows and Flows <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Quite a weather system moved across the Maritimes over the weekend. High winds with gusts over 100km/h and torrential rain blew down trees and raised water levels in many areas.  A look at the NB Power outages map on Monday morning, as seen below, shows that thousands are without power.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17891414" src='//' height="787" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">The storm has passed, but the effects are still in effect, river levels often take a day or two after a storm to see the rise. The Magaguadavic River in St. George was very high this morning. Not compared to the flood of 2010, but compared to normal levels for this time of year. The gates at the main dam in St. George are open and spilling, though the emergency tainter gate remains closed. The tainter gate, so named for structural engineer Burnham Tainter, is only used when the levels are really high and to prevent flooding as much as possible. The flows from the three gates at the main dam are, however, enough to swamp out the bottom several pools of the fishway. So fish would not be able to find the fishway at the moment, of course, they wouldn't be able to get up the run to the fishway entrance either with all the water moving down. As the level and flow decreases, we'll likely see a few fish that were washed out into the estuary and are making their way back into the river. It isn't uncommon after such events for us to find a few smallmouth bass heading back into the river over the week that follows.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17891415" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Even though fish aren't making their way up, we'll still be visiting the fishway every day for the next week or so. The high winds stripped the leaves from trees and the water carried them into the river. Despite the power of moving water, it is amazing to see that leaves can catch up on the grates without ripping apart. Eventually, enough have been caught on some of the grates that the water flow is almost completely blocked, forcing the flows to go elsewhere. It can make a mess in the work area so we'll be stopping by to clear the leaves and make sure our equipment is not getting damaged or taken away.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-11-05T07:27:39-08:00 Blows and Flows Anchors Aweigh...A Ton <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Now that the gear from the 2018 season is all in except for a few bits here and there, we're sitting down with the data and getting to work. But even though today gave New Brunswick the first snow of the season, we're already casting an eye towards next spring. Tags and other equipment will have to be ordered and sorted once we finalize the plans for 2019, but some stuff is best acquired early on. Such is the case with the anchors we use for the acoustic-release receivers in Chaleur Bay and a few other spots.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" align="" daid="17885743" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Our typical receiver set up uses 15-20kg anchors and a float on the surface, as is the case with the many receivers on the Miramichi. When we use acoustic release receivers however, we need a different anchor altogether. These receivers and their floats stay well below the surface, out of harm's and everyone else's way. When we want them back, we send a signal and the receiver releases from the anchor and comes to the surface. Similar technology has been in the news for the lobster industry in efforts to minimize the amount of line in the sea that could entangle the North Atlantic right whales.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17885744" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">The anchors for this set-up have to be heavier, much heavier. To make sure they can't move, get dragged or hop along the bottom in the currents (due to the 15kg pounds of buoyancy in the float), we use anchors that weigh between 50kg and 70kg. We source them from a scrap yard and they have already had a useful life as chains on container ships. Now they can contribute to research efforts, and help some summer students get a work out.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research..</i><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div>.<br><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-10-24T06:53:53-07:00 Anchors Aweigh...A Ton Home Again Home Again. <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Vice-President of Research, Jon Carr, returned from Greenland in the middle of the night Sunday. A little foggy after his travels, he made it in to work soon after and had good news to report. While there, he explored several areas and tried different methods to capture salmon to tag with pop-up satellite tags (PSATs). Soon narrowing in to trolling, which allows great mobility, he tagged about a dozen fish with PSATs. One of our partners in this project, Tim Sheehan from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, arrived later than Jon and is staying a bit later and we hope he tags a few more before he too has to head for home.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17882885" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">We'll be keeping an eye on the sky, so to speak, for any transmission from these tags. They'll pop off intentionally in May 2019 if all goes well. However, if any of the salmon are consumed by a predator, the tag will be detached in the process. After being passed from the predator's digestive system, it will float to the surface, triggering its transmission and we'll hear from it then. The light, depth and temperature data will be examined and in cases where the fish and tag were consumed, we'll be able to tell. In some cases it might even be possible to identify the type of predator. Hopefully that doesn't happen and all these fish make it to their rivers to spawn. The tags are scheduled to come around the time the fish are somewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and before they enter freshwater. The tags cannot release successfully in fresh water as the mechanism needs the conductivity of sea water to do so.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17882886" src='//' height="562" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">If you ever come across one of these, or other tags, on the fish you catch, it's a great help to researchers if you can read the serial number off the tag. Recording when and where you found the tagged fish, as well as any observations about its condition, can really help by adding another solid data point to the history of that fish. A photo is very helpful too. The fish's well-being takes precedence of course. Most of the time, reading the serial number can be done with the fish in the water and very quickly before release. If not, don't risk the fish and let it go safely. Many of the tags and other equipment researchers use have serial numbers and contact information printed on them.<br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-10-17T11:29:52-07:00 Home Again Home Again. Off and Away <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">ASF Research Director, Jon Carr, is still in Greenland this week and his efforts are paying off. He's in the Qaqortoq area working with a researcher from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tim Sheehan, to find, catch and tag maiden salmon to track their routes and habitat use over the coming winter. <br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17878741" src='//' height="562" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">To catch the salmon, they've been using fyke nets, trap nets and trolled. With the mobility it provides, trolling is proving to be the way to go. Careful not to play the fish and to bring it to the boat quickly and without harm, they are anesthetizing them before the tagging procedure. The tagging procedure takes only a few minutes and the fish are recovered and observed in a tank on board for an hour or more before being released. If the fish aren't predated over the winter, we should see some transmissions beginning in March 2019. <br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-10-11T11:18:50-07:00 Off and Away At the Other End of the Migration <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain"> While it is well-known that Atlantic salmon from North America spend time off the coast of western Greenland, their precise behaviour and routes the following winter are not. In order to continue to fill in the knowledge gaps in the life history of the salmon, ASF's Jon Carr is in Greenland this week with the goal of tagging salmon there. Typically, we tag smolts and post-spawn kelts in their river's of origin in Atlantic Canada. But the smolt tags are small and only last a few months. The kelt tags can last a few years, but those are necessarily fish that have already succeeded in returning to spawn. What about those that haven't spawned yet, those maiden fish off Greenland. Where do they spend the winter? What conditions do they encounter? What types of behaviour do they exhibit? These are the types of questions we are seeking to answer by tagging fish in Greenland.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17873347" src='//' height="560" size="150" border="0"></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">In conjunction with researchers from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jon is attempting to trap salmon off the coast and tag them with pop-up satellite archival tags. These are the same tags that we have used on kelts from the Restigouche and Miramichi rivers. In this case, they will remain attached to the fish for 5 months before popping off and transmitting to satellites from the surface.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17873348" src='//' height="562" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">If all goes well, we'll have a great view into the lives of maiden fish, those that have not yet spawned, during their second winter at sea. These fish are destined to be salmon, not grilse, and would, if successful, contribute significantly to egg deposits in the rivers. It should be fascinating, and though we don't want to hear from any of the tags for 5 months, we can't wait to see the what stories they hold.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-10-03T04:48:19-07:00 At the Other End of the Migration Survey Says... <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Activities for the Research Department are wide-ranging this week. In New Brunswick, we are finishing our juvenile surveys in the southwest while up north the last few receivers are being collected at Dalhousie. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the receivers, save for a few elusive stragglers, have come in, but have to make their way down to Corner Brook for downloading. ASF's head of Research, Jon Carr, left yesterday for Greenland where he will be tagging maiden salmon with pop-up satellite tags to gain knowledge on their activities during the upcoming winter at sea.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="500" alt="" daid="17867920" src='//' title="" height="888"></div><div class="plain"><br>The juvenile surveys in southwest New Brunswick are important in that it is the only source of information on the presence of salmon in several of these Outer Bay of Fundy rivers. And there hasn't been much to report. Just like the last two years, the water levels have been low. More so this year and we didn't see too many juveniles anywhere. Even in the spots we are used to seeing several, they were in low numbers or absent all together. That doesn't mean they are completely gone however, with the low water, the fish may have moved to other spots that are now more suitable. We often pull parr from under small pour-overs where the tumbling water itself provides cover. Undercuts are another key spot for juvenile salmon. Those spots don't always remain in low water. Eels and black-nosed dace don't seem to mind these conditions, we saw as many of them as we usually do.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">The juvenile survey project is supported by the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund as they have for many years. There is a huge range of projects that happen thanks to this fund, you can read about them on their website at, If your group has a project that might benefit from some additional funding, I encourage you to check their website to see if they might be of assistance.<br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Jon is still in transit to Greenland, but hopefully will make contact soon enough with some pictures and stories that I can relay on to you. It's an exciting trip and the potential data gained will be fascinating.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-09-24T05:52:05-07:00 Survey Says... The Cure for Leaky Waders <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">The end of summer and the official start of desk season is on the horizon. The truth though, is that field work only comprises about 15% of our time, much of the rest is in front of a screen and working with the data we collect. Some of us are out more, Eric spent three weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador this summer, and some of us less, we probably don't let Jason out enough. Field work is definitely an enjoyable part of the job though, even standing in the Restigouche in the pouring rain, cold water and leaky waders.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="500" alt="" daid="17855315" src='//' title="" height="888"></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">This week, I've been checking in on some temperature loggers we have around southwest New Brunswick. For many years, we've been placing them in the spring and removing them in the fall. Last year we started using permanent installations in a few spots. These allow the loggers to remain in place year-round and give more information on the spring thaw and fall cool down periods. Since we want them to be submerged the entire year, they are placed in very low spots and are only accessible at this point in the season when the water is way down.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="700" alt="" daid="17855316" src='//' title="" height="320"></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">So I've been trooping about from spot to spot and wading into the rivers to retrieve, download and re-deploy these units. It's an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and I often bump into friendly people along the way. We'll use the data immediately to assess the best time to begin our juvenile surveys, we don't want to risk the stress of surveying when temperatures are too high for the little fish.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Oh, and the cure for leaky waders? It's quite simple really, only wear them when the water is warm, the sun is out and you don't really need them and they'll never leak a single drop.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-09-05T06:32:59-07:00 The Cure for Leaky Waders Back to School <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain"><b>September is fast approaching and this week we're saying goodbye to our summer students from Dalhousie University. Heather and Michael have been with us for a few months now and made great contributions to our work. Both spent some long hours in front of computers as well as getting out in the field and getting their feet wet. Heather spent three weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador looking for post-smolts and working on our tracking and fish health projects. She proved to be as adept with big heavy fyke nets as working with tracking data. <br></b></div><div class="plain"><b><br></b></div><div class="plain"></div><div class="plain"><b><img width="450" alt="" daid="17849041" src='//' title="" height="799"></b></div><div class="plain"><b>Michael spent at least a day a week in the field locally as well as heading up to Miramichi for mid-season downloads and equipment retrievals. Most of the rest of the time he was looking at data from our kelt tracking. For example, he produced the plot shown below that shows how long tagged kelts spent in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, categorized by river and whether they displayed alternate or consecutive spawning patterns. There is a lot more work from both students that we'll be working in to our various analyses as the work continues.</b></div><div class="plain"><b><br></b></div><div class="plain"><b><img width="750" alt="" daid="17849042" src='//' title="" height="562"></b></div><div class="plain"><b><br></b></div><div class="plain"><b>We all enjoyed working with Heather and Michael this summer and wish them the best for the upcoming semesters.</b></div><div class="plain"><b><br></b></div><div class="plain"><b><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></b></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-08-16T07:51:22-07:00 Back to School Your ASF Team <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Every year in August, the ASF team gathers at our offices in Saint Andrews, NB for a few day. Staff come from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and the US. We spend some time planning ahead, sharing news and program updates. It's all centered around our fight to protect wild Atlantic salmon and their habitat. It was good timing this year with the recent news of the new Greenland deal which will immediately protect thousands of adult wild Atlantic salmon. With staff normally spread over different provinces, states and countries, we are always in touch digitally, but it really pays to get everyone together in the same room, even if only for a few days. Like our members, we are focused on the future and undertaking programs and projects that will benefit the salmon we all care about.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" alt="" daid="17844015" src='//' title="" height="562"></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-08-09T04:41:16-07:00 Your ASF Team It's Not All Glitz and Glamour <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">Some days it seems like working in salmon conservation is all sunshine and boat trips. Nice days, beautiful views of flora and fauna, nice folks to bump into on the water and the sun in your face. Then there are days when you're up to your armpits in rotting marine bio-fouling and wondering if you'll ever get the smell out. Today was one of the latter. <br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17839739" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain">Eric and Heather safely returned from Newfoundland and Labrador with only a few hiccups on the way. We were happy to have them back in the office until we had to unload the truck and clean the gear. Boy did the fyke net stink. But gear doesn't last well unless maintained so we set to work spreading stuff out to scrub, spray and clean it. A few batches of disinfectant to keep any unwanted hitchhikers at bay and things are looking up. Everything that goes in the water for a length of time acquires a layer of growth on it and if we didn't clean it, it would gain weight and size with each deployment. Not the fanciest part of the job, but cleaning and maintenance goes a long way to get the most out of equipment.<br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-07-31T12:11:43-07:00 It's Not All Glitz and Glamour Orcas? That Was Last Week. <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">ASF Biologist Eric and Dalhousie summer student Heather have been in Newfoundland and Labrador for nearly three weeks now and their work there is coming to an end. They have spent hours on the strait, going back and forth visiting our receiver array and downloading data about smolt and kelt passage. They've also been fishing a fyke net in L'Anse-Amour on the Labrador side looking for smolt and taking small samples for a fish health project. More recently, they've hired a commercial fishing boat to tow our live trawl in the strait. They've been looking to capture post-smolts from Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">If we are able to capture post-smolts at the strait, we'd potentially be able to tag them with larger tags than we can currently use for smolts in rivers. That would mean longer battery life and the potential to further investigate the migration beyond the Strait of Belle Isle, an area that is very difficult to examine now. Their reconnaissance trip has proven very useful in terms of methods, equipment and results. When the tag tech improves to a suitable point, we'll be more prepared to pursue this avenue of investigation.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17835770" src='//' height="563" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Last week, they were visited by a killer whale several times, but this week it was a beluga that came to say hello. The curious cetacean showed up at the wharf and rolled on its side to gain a better view of our researchers. Eric and Heather are now driving back through beautiful scenery towards the ferry that will carry them home. Next week, once they've returned with the boat, we'll head up to the Miramichi to collect receivers that remain in the river.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-07-25T11:48:36-07:00 Orcas? That Was Last Week. Capelin, Killers and Salmon <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">The mid-summer finally finds out crew in Newfoundland and Labrador with some good weather. Eric and Heather have been downloading the receiver array in the Strait of Belle Isle and the salmon have begun to pass through.  They have also been fishing the fyke net, though have not caught any post-smolts yet. Lots of capelin and a lone adult salmon have been caught and released on their way however. They are now out on the big boats with the live-trawl in the strait itself, and we eagerly wait to hear details of what they find. </div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">They did have a few visitors in the form of killer whales over the past few days. While the Orcas frequent inshore waters on the Pacific Coast, out here they tend to stay offshore, except for some areas of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Strait of Belle Isle. <br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17832813" src='//' height="562" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Back in New Brunswick, ASF staff were at the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility taking some samples from migrating salmon for the fish health project. These fish were caught by DFO as they reach the Mactaquac Dam, are sorted and measured and then trucked beyond the dam to continue on their way. We're taking a few small tissue samples to compare disease agent presence between stocks that have to pass through aquaculture areas and those that don't. The sampled fish are anesthetized before hand and are released with the rest of the fish afterwards. The day went well and we'll be back late this week to finish the sampling. Unfortunately, the numbers returning to the Saint John River so far this year are not too high.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17832814" src='//' height="421" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-07-18T17:12:30-07:00 Capelin, Killers and Salmon What the Fyke? It's the beginning of July and ASF biologist Eric Brunsdon and Dalhousie University summer student Heather Perry are searching for post smolt at the Strait of Belle Isle. Post smolt are juvenile salmon on their first ocean migration and ASF's research has shown that almost all of them coming from Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers pass through the Strait of Belle Isle. <div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Capturing post smolt will give valuable information about their size and condition, and by eventually tagging these growing young salmon, ASF will be able to expand the reach of our tracking program further into the Labrador Sea. <br><br>Eric and Heather began the week by setting up a fyke net off L'Anse-Amour on the Labrador side of the Strait of Belle Isle. A fyke net is a fixed trap with hoops and long wings that gently captures fish moving along the coast. It's shaped so fish that have entered the fyke net are discouraged from leaving. The net will be checked at least once a day for post-smolts and to release any by-catch. The fish are not harmed by becoming trapped in the net. It took a long day to site and set it up, but it is now fishing well.<br><img width="700" daid="17823589" src='//' height="525" border="0"><br><br>They are also checking on and downloading the receiver array recently deployed across the strait. The fyke net and data downloads will serve to alert them that post-smolts are passing through the strait. They will then begin live-trawling using local fishers to capture the fish as they pass the strait. Meanwhile, back at the office, ASF Biologist Jason Daniels is using the early data from the receivers in the Miramichi River and sea-surface temperature data to predict when the post-smolts will arrive where Eric and Heather are. So far, it looks like they are ahead of the game and are well-prepared for the arrival of post-smolts from southern Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers. We'll keep in contact with the crew in Labrador for any updates, no salmon so far, but they have seen some whales and a few icebergs!<br><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br><p class="plain"></p></div> Graham 2018-07-04T09:32:58-07:00 What the Fyke? SoBI It. <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">As the end of June nears, salmon smolts from Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers are getting closer to the Strait of Belle Isle (SoBI). For many years, ASF has deployed lines of receivers across the strait to detect tagged smolt as they pass. Last week, ASF's Vice President of Research Jon Carr and Newfoundland and Labrador program director Don Ivany laid out the receivers with the help of lobster fishermen Loomis Way. There are two lines to increase the chances of detection and each line consists of receivers placed about 600m apart. The southern line also has sentinel tags, the same as those placed inside out migrating smolt, fixed in place between some receivers. These sentinel tags allow us to gauge the detection probability, or effectiveness of the line. While tags can be heard by receivers several hundred meters away in optimal conditions, conditions in the ocean are usually less than ideal. This allows us to calculate how many fish we may have missed and adjust our estimates accordingly.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="700" daid="17820449" src='//' height="525" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Once Jon Carr finished deploying gear, he went over to the Labrador side to meet up with ASF Biologist Eric Brunsdon and Dalhousie student Heather Perry to help with preparations for their activities. They'll be conducting some surveys of the passing smolts using live trawl and fyke nets. Their attempts will help guide our activities over the next few years and hopefully with emerging technologies to extend our tracking capabilities into the North Atlantic. We look forward to more updates and photos from our staff in the field in the coming weeks.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Happy Canada Day.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-06-27T07:36:48-07:00 SoBI It. Downloads from Upstream <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">This week is all about data capture. Mike and Eric are waiting on the weather to visit Miramichi receiver installations to download some and retrieve others. The smolts have passed by now and are on their way to the Strait of Belle Isle. At the strait, Don Ivany and a local fisher are gearing up to get the array into the water there to be ready for the smolts' passing. Some receivers will be left in Miramichi to monitor returning adults.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="400" daid="17815268" src='//' border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br>Michael, our summer student from Dalhousie University, and I spent a long day yesterday around both branches of the Miramichi. We were collecting receivers we had placed there a month ago to detect passing smolts. While some receivers further downstream are left in, these are removed much earlier. Since the smolts have passed and the adults are detected eslewhere, we remove these receivers to make sure we get the data and so that they are out of the way of any anglers in those sections.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">Eric and Heather, our other Dalhousie University summer student, will be headed to Newfoundland on the weekend to begin our expanded activites there. They'll be looking to capture post-smolts to collect information from them before releasing them on their way. They'll also be sampling for a fish health program, looking at the presence of certain pathogens from Gulf of St. Lawrence salmon. They'll be gone for a few weeks and working hard with local fishers, I'm sure they'll take the some time here and there to enjoy the local scenery.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-06-19T07:58:35-07:00 Downloads from Upstream Live Trapping Smolt at Sea <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">by Graham Chafe, ASF Biologist</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">In about three weeks, ASF Biologist <b>Eric Brunsdon</b> and Dalhousie University student <b>Heather Perry</b> will be packing the truck and skiff and heading towards Newfoundland and Labrador. They'll be undertaking a reconnaissance mission in the <b>Strait of Belle Isle</b> for a few weeks. They'll be in the same area as our receiver array, and will check on it while they are there.</div><div class="plain"> </div><div class="plain">Tagging technology is incredible right now, but we can't tag a smolt leaving a river and track it for long enough to cover the portion of the migration from post-smolt to returning adult, either grilse or multi-winter. Technology is improving though, and we plan to be able to maximize the opportunity when it arises.</div><div class="plain"> </div><div class="plain">In order to tag fish up there, we'll have to catch fish up there. To that end, Eric and Heather, with the help of a crew of local fishers, will be using a trawl net specially designed to keep fish alive and safe in the cod end. We tested that out on Passamaquoddy Bay a few weeks ago, you can see a video on ASF's Facebook page.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="700" daid="17808928" src='//' border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Inspecting a trap net that will be used in Strait of Belle Isle. Photo Graham Chafe/ASF</i></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">On Monday of this week, we went out on a Huntsman Marine Science Centre boat to test out the deployment of a large fyke net. </div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="700" daid="17808929" src='//' border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><i>Deploying a floating trap net experimentally in Passamaquoddy Bay. Photo: Graham Chafe/ASF</i></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">This type of net is fixed in place near shore. Fish that are moving parallel to the shore encounter a lead net that diverts them to the trap portion of the net. Widely used in both scientific and small scale food fishing, fyke nets are easy to deploy and tend when they are of smaller size. Ours is quite large, Heather and Eric have their work cut out for them. They'll be checking the net one or more times a day and taking measurements and biological information from any salmon that are caught before releasing them on their way.</div><div class="plain"> </div><div class="plain">Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</div><div class="plain"> </div><p class="plain"></p> Atlantic Salmon Federation 2018-06-06T05:20:19-07:00 Live Trapping Smolt at Sea Keep Calm and Tag On <p class="plain"></p><div class="plain">The bulk of the big rush of fieldwork is over, with some tasks remaining. All the fish have been tagged save for the smolts on the Cascapedia, which should happen next week. The receivers are out, except for the Strait of Belle Isle lines, due to hit the water in mid-June. Most of us will soon settle in to our summer schedule which consists of a healthy mix of office and field work.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">The kelts were angled in order to insert the acoustic tags, and the smolts trapped with smoltwheels. Here are the numbers:</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div align="center" class="plain"><img width="500" daid="17805429" src='//' height="172" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"> We're keeping an eye on the downstream passage at St. George on the Magaguadavic River, where we're seeing a few salmon daily that probably leaked out of hatcheries. We've also seen a few adult alewife, the ones that ascended early and are on their way out already. To date, we've also counted three small chain pickerel, an invasive species in the system that have taken hold.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="400" daid="17803309" src='//' height="711" border="0"><br></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain">The upstream passage on the same system is busy with alewife on their way to spawn in the river. While we don't count them, nor are there facilities to do so, the run last year seemed larger than usual. It definitely was a bigger year for the neighbouring St. Croix River and early indications for 2018 seem to suggest the same. The photo above shows a few alewife climbing from pool to pool on the fish ladder. The pools are full of them and they move mostly in sunny weather. There was at least one larger predator after them just below the ladder the other day. Although we didn't see it directly, it did create a very large wake as it scattered the alewife all over the place. Seals have occasionally been seen there before, but this was a fish, perhaps a striped bass.</div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><img width="400" daid="17803310" src='//' height="711" border="0"></div><div class="plain"><br></div><div class="plain"><i> Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i><br></div><p class="plain"></p> Graham 2018-05-30T05:10:16-07:00 Keep Calm and Tag On Canoes, Waders and Automobiles <p class="plain">Tagging efforts continued over the long weekend on three Rivers. Eric and Michael were up on the Restigouche tagging kelts. Thanks to David Leblanc, the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council and all the volunteer anglers for making it a success. They didn't manage to tag all the fish we had planned, but considering the late season and tricky conditions, it went very well. Meanwhile, Jason and I were on the Northwest Miramichi after smolts. The run wasn't too strong while we were there so Eric and Michael stopped by on the way home and finished up for us so we could head to the Southwest Miramichi for another batch of tagging. The Miramichi Salmon Association and Kelsey McGee get a big thanks for setting up and operating the smolt wheel and fishing it every day for us.  Thanks also goes to Debbie Norton and the Upper Oxbow camp for supporting us while we were there. We enjoyed our stay and met several anglers, of both the salmon and bass groups who were all enjoying a great weekend.</p><p class="plain"><br></p><p class="plain"><img width="750" daid="17798629" src='//' height="562" border="0"></p><p class="plain"><br> Between the two branches of the Miramichi, Jason and I had some receivers to deploy further upstream than our main groups of equipment. Thanks to The Ledges, Vince Swayze, Salmon Brook Lodge and Black Brook Lodge for allowing us to use their camps and pools for this work. We'll be back in a few weeks, after the smolt run, to collect them and make sure they're out of the way of the anglers when the brights are in.<br> <br> Jason and I also tagged 80 smolt at Rocky Brook camp, who support us every year with this work. It's a great place to go for this as the smolt wheel is right there and they give us a spot to tag indoors when it is raining. This little Pine Siskin came for to watch the proceedings and eventually had to be escorted outside. After tagging the fish in two days, we found a little time on the way home to make a couple of quick hikes through the beautiful country in that area.<br> <br> Only the Restigouche and Grand Cascapedia River smolts left to tag this season. That should happen over the next couple of weeks and then we're working more locally for a while before mid-season download of the receivers begin.<br> <br> <i>Graham Chafe, ASF Research.</i></p> Graham 2018-05-23T16:18:53-07:00 Canoes, Waders and Automobiles