Behavioral responses by migrating juvenile salmonids to a subsea high-voltage DC power cable
Currently, there is large-scale interest in developing marine-based energy sources and extensive subsea power cable networks. Despite growing concern that local perturbations in the magnetic field produced by current passing through these cables may negatively affect electromagnetically sensitive marine species, e.g., disrupted migration; few studies have examined free-living animals. We used acoustic biotelemetry tracking data to examine movement behaviors and migration success of a magneto-sensitive fish, late-fall run Chinook (LFC) salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), in relation to the energization of a magnetic field-producing subsea power cable, as well as other potentially influential environmental parameters. We analyzed detection records of tagged LFC salmon smolts during their out-migration through the San Francisco Bay before and after the installation of an 85-km high-voltage direct-current transmission cable. Cable energization did not significantly impact the proportion of fish that successfully migrated through the bay or the probability of successful migration. However, after cable energization, higher proportions of fish crossed the cable location and fish were more likely to be detected south of their normal migration route. Transit times through some regions were reduced during cable activity, but other environmental factors were more influential. Resource selection models indicated that proximity to the active cable varied by location: migration paths moved closer to the cable at some locations, but further away at others. Overall, cable activity appeared to have mixed, but limited effects on movements and migration success of smolts. Additional studies are recommended to further investigate impacts of subsea cables on fish migrations, including potential long-term consequences.
We would like to kindly thank Trans Bay Cable LLC for providing cable load data for this study. We also thank the staff at Geometrics for their training and support (especially Mikhail Tchernychev, Ross Johnson, Randl Rivera, and Naiema Jackson) and the University of California, Davis, Biotelemetry Lab for their help and support (particularly Michael Thomas, Gabriel Singer, and Jamilynn Poletto). We would also like to thank Ximena Vergara of the Electric Power Research Institute for her help and support with the grant administration. The scope of this project would not be possible without the generous permission to use fish detection data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Bruce MacFarlane, Cyril Michel), US Fish and Wildlife (Robert Null, Pat Brandes), US Army Corps of Engineers (Peter LaCivita), and East Bay Municipal Utility District (Casey Del Real, James Smith, Michelle Workman). We also thank A. Gill and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful and constructive comments which improved the quality of the manuscript. This study was funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, award no. DE-EE0006382 and by the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Environmental Studies Program, Washington, DC, through Interagency Agreement Number M14PG00012. It was funded through a cost share agreement with the Electric Power Research Institute (Project 1–105902).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed, including University of California, Davis, Animal Care Protocol (#15486).
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