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> The River > Science and Monitoring > Fish Community Studies > Electrofishing


Electrofishing Project

 Our science monitoring program includes an electrofishing survey to document the presence, abundance, and function of fish species in the Penobscot River watershed before and after dam removal.  The data being collected before dam removal will characterize the “baseline” fish community.  Electrofishing uses electricity to stun fish before they are caught with nets.  When performed correctly, electrofishing results in no permanent harm to fish, which return to their natural state, and are then sorted, measured, and released.  The survey includes mainstem river sections downstream of the dams that will be removed, within the dam impoundments, and upstream of the dams, and several tributaries.  The project is led by Dr. Stephen Coghlan, an assistant professor of freshwater fisheries ecology with the University of Maine at Orono, and his graduate student Ian Kiraly.

Coghlan and Kiraly began their field work for the electrofishing project in 2010.  In 2010, they identified 29 fish species including diadromous species such as Atlantic salmon and American shad and resident species such as smallmouth bass and white perch.  They were in the field again in spring and summer 2011 collecting fish until river water temperatures warmed.  They will be back in the field in fall 2011 to complete their baseline data collection.  Kiraly will analyze the data this winter and expects to complete his Master’s thesis in 2012.  With Great Works Dam scheduled to be removed in 2012, the current plan is to discontinue electrofishing while the dam is being removed and, in 2013, to begin electrofishing again for two years to document changes to the fish community as a result of dam removal and the restoration of fish passage.

The project builds off of work conducted by Kleinschmidt Associates and Midwestern Biodiversity Institute who conducted electrofishing to develop an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) for the Penobscot River and for other large coldwater rivers in the northeastern US.

Ian Kiraly Electrofishing Penobscot

Ian Kiraly, University of Maine at Orono grad student, boat captain, and electrofishing guru. Mainstem Penobscot River, downstream of remnant Bangor Dam (in background).  June 8, 2011

 Electrofishing Penobscot

Electrofishing techs netting stunned fish. Mainstem Penobscot River, downstream of remnant Bangor Dam.  June 8, 2011

Electro-fishing tank

Electrofishing tank used to hold fish on the boat before sorting, measuring, and release. Mainstem Penobscot River, downstream of remnant Bangor Dam.  June 8, 2011

 

Researchers electrofishing the Penobscot River to document fish communities. J. Curtis

Researcher netting fish during electrofishing of the Penobscot River. J. Curtis

Holding pen for fish waiting to be counted and measured before being released back to the river. J. Curtis

Weighing fish while collecting pre-dam removal information on fish communities of the Penobscot River. C. Daigle 

Researchers recording data from fish caught during electrofishing of the Penobscot River. J. Curtis

Researchers measuring fish while gathering data on fish communities in the Penobscot River. C. Daigle

Listen to Dr. Steve Coghlan talk about pre-dam removal research on fish communities in the Penobscot River LINK TO VIDEO

Learn more about pre-dam removal science monitoring LINK TO SCIENCE PAGES

 

 
       


 

 


 


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