Determination of swimming speeds and energetic demands of upriver migrating fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Klickitat River

Publication Date



Report of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to Bonneville Power Administration


chinook, salmon, swimming, swimming speeds, wildlife, migration, adult, EMG

Report number

Project No. 22063


This report describes a study conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory forthe Bonneville Power Administration's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program during the fall of2001. The objective was to study the migration and energy use of adult fall Chinook salmon(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) traveling up the Klickitat River to spawn. The salmon were taggedwith either surgically implanted electromyogram (EMG) transmitters or gastrically implantedcoded transmitters and were monitored with mobile and stationary receivers. Swim speed andaerobic and anaerobic energy use were determined for the fish as they attempted passage ofthree waterfalls on the lower Klickitat River and as they traversed free-flowing stretches between,below, and above the falls.Of the 35 EMG-tagged fish released near the mouth of the Klickitat River, 40% passed the firstfalls, 24% passed the second falls, and 20% made it to Lyle Falls. None of the EMGtagged fishwere able to pass Lyle Falls, either over the falls or via a fishway at Lyle Falls. Mean swimmingspeeds ranged from as low as 52.6 centimeters per second (cm s-1) between falls to as high as189 (cm s-1) at falls passage. Fish swam above critical swimming speeds while passing the fallsmore often than while swimming between the falls (58.9% versus 1.7% of the transmitter signals).However, fish expended more energy swimming the stretches between the falls than duringactual falls passage (100.7 to 128.2 kilocalories [kcals] to traverse areas between or below fallsversus 0.3 to 1.0 kcals to pass falls).

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