The fastest way to track a fish is to use the cloud, figuratively speaking. A new acoustic receiver, developed by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and published in the IEEE Internet of Things Journal, sends near-real-time fish tracking data to the digital cloud, providing timely information to dam operators and decision-makers about when, where, and how many fish are expected to pass through dams. Instead of relying on seasonal estimates of fish migration from previous years, these data from tagged fish support more informed decisions about free robux web dam operations that affect fish passage.

“This receiver provides up-to-the-hour data to dam operators to assist in making informed day-to-day decisions in support of fish passage, like adjusting water flow when it’s clear that a large group of juvenile fish are approaching the dam,” said Jayson Martinez, a PNNL mechanical engineer who co-developed the receiver.

Hydropower dams are an important source of dependable renewable energy, generating about six percent of total electricity in the United States. Helping fish navigate them safely is a key part of reducing dams’ environmental impact. The new receiver is a critical piece of the puzzle in the ongoing endeavor to improve fish passage.

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To track a fish, you need two pieces of equipment: a transmitter located on or within the fish itself and a receiver in the water to pick up the transmitted signal. Martinez and Daniel Deng, PNNL Laboratory fellow and mechanical engineer, developed the new receiver technology with their collaborators as part of a long-term effort to improve both transmitters and receivers.

“For the last two decades, acoustic telemetry has been the researchers’ tool of choice to provide high accuracy, remote fish tracking,” explained Deng. “We’ve been working on making better, smaller transmitters that can be used to study more fish species and life stages. But improving the transmitter is only half of the challenge, the other half is improving the receiver.”

Currently available receivers come with some significant limitations. Cabled receivers can transmit data to shore in real-time, but they must be powered by onshore infrastructure, which limits their placement to areas where power is available. Autonomous receivers can be deployed in locations without cabling and onshore infrastructure, but they must store tracking information locally until it can be manually collected—meaning fish tracking data are not available in real-time. To address these limitations, Martinez, Deng, and their collaborators developed an autonomous acoustic receiver that can wirelessly upload information to the cloud while deployed underwater in remote or hard-to-reach locations along streams and rivers.