My doctoral research focused on how Atlantic salmon migrations are impacted by the  Mactaquac Generation Station reservoir.

The Mactaquac Aquatic Ecosystem Study (MAES) is a large compilation of studies examining impacts of hydropower regulation on the Saint John River ecosystem. The Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) is the academic partner, along with funding from NB Power, NSERC, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF), and the NB Wildlife Trust Fund (NBWTF). The majority of work is being done through the University of New Brunswick.

2015 MAES team (Kirby Morrill)
2016 MAES team (Kirby Morrill)

My specific objectives were to:

  1. Determine the up- and downstream migration rates and success of the three life stages of Atlantic Salmon (smolt, adult, post-spawned adult) within the MGS reservoir
  2. Relate movements to a hydrodynamic model in the MGS reservoir to inform hydropower operations

Large scale movements were tracked with acoustic telemetry equipment (Vemco 69 kHz). Smolts are tagged with V7 tags, adults and post-spawned adults with V13 tags, some with depth and temperature sensors. These pings were detected by a passive tracking system (VR2Ws) moored in the Saint John River and Mactaquac reservoir.

External tagging of adult Atlantic salmon
Fish surgery on Atlantic salmon smolt

Quantifying the migration patterns of Atlantic salmon in the Mactaquac reservoir will help to inform NB Power on solutions for fish passage, and also provide novel information about Atlantic salmon migration through reservoirs common to salmon rivers worldwide. Especially for the post-spawned adult Atlantic salmon life stage which is iteroparous (potential for repeat spawning), whose overwintering behaviour and habitat were previously unknown in regulated rivers.