Responses of blueback herring to high-frequency sound and implications for reducing entrainment at hydropower dams

Publication Date



blueback herring, herring, high frequency, sound, entrainment, Hydropower, sound pressure levels, low frequencies, low frequency sound, startle response, field tests, transducers

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


Low- and high-frequency sounds were tested as a means of repelling blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) in confined-area and open-water experiments. Confined-area tests were performed by analyzing the response of blueback herring in floating net-pens to sounds differing in frequency, sound pressure levels (SPLs, given in decibels [dB] in reference to l.0 ƒÊPa), and pulse width. High frequency sounds between 110 and 140 kHz, at SPLs above 180 dB (at 1.0 m from the transducer) and at various pulse widths, elicited statistically significant (P < 0.05) avoidance responses by blueback herring. A reduced response was observed at sound frequencies of 100 and 150 kHz. Low-frequency sounds between 0.1 and 1 kHz at SPLs of 160-175 dB (at 1.0 m from the transducer) elicited only short-term startle responses. Field tests were performed at Richard B. Russell Dam (on the Savannah River at the Georgia-South Carolina border) to evaluate candidate transducers and amplifiers. In field evaluations a single high frequency transducer emitting 124.6- and 130.9-kHz sounds at an SPL of 187 or 200 dB (at 1.0m) partially repelled blueback herring that were approximately 60 m away from the transducer for periods of up to I h. These results suggest that high-frequency sound may provide an effective and inexpensive method, relative to structural measures, for reducing entrainment of blueback herring at hydropower stations.





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