posted at 06:50
Author: TakePart
Fish drone shows what its like for salmon swimming through dams
Developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers, the synthetic, tubular "Fish drone" has been programmed to tell scientists what salmon experience when passing through dams. At Washington's Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River, the fake fish was sent through the turbine chambers and swirling waters real salmon must navigate to get from upriver to downstream of the dam. In nature, most fish make it through the chambers unscathed - a survival rate of 90% is typical at United States dams. The new model takes more accurate readings of turbine and chamber pressure effects found in a variety of hydroelectric dams around the world. White said the idea is to deploy the Sensor Fish to test effects of new turbine designs at retrofitted dams. "Each individual dam is unique and can have many different factors that contribute to fish survival and injuries," White said. "One can't make a blanket statement that any one turbine type or any one dam type is more dangerous to fish than another. Experts need to carefully study the unique characteristics of each individual dam to fully understand which specific areas of that dam could be more dangerous for fish." After successful testing runs in Washington, Deng has deemed the new Sensor Fish ready for testing abroad. On the schedule so far are three small hydroelectric projects in the U.S., multiple dams in Australia and a dam on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.

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