Grad Student of the Month - December 2016
Amanda Babin - Biology PhD Candidate
The commute of Atlantic Salmon through Mactaquac Lake
Atlantic salmon go through three major migrations in their lifetime. First as juvenile smolts heading downstream to the ocean where they get a large boost in growth, then coming back as adults to spawn in the same streams they were born. The last life stage is the post-spawned adults, or kelts, which go back to the ocean. The kelts are of special interest to Amanda and her team since they can grow even larger when back in the sea, and return to spawn multiple times, contributing more and more to the population.
Amanda has just returned from the Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research in Montreal where she presented her findings of kelt movements in these low-flow waters. She found that those fish which remained upstream of the lake for the winter were more likely to succeed in reaching the ocean, whereas those which used the lake as their overwintering habitat were more likely to perish. She also found that the fish traveled slower in the lake than the free-flowing river, which can be partially attributed to the amount of time they spent going back-and-forth over 25 km trying to find the dam. There was also evidence of some individuals not surviving passage through the dam.
These results will inform hydropower managers both local and abroad about how to best care for the experienced and charismatic Altantic salmon kelts.