A study was conducted to compare the travel times, detection probabilities, and survival of migrant hatchery-reared yearling chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha tagged with either gastrically or surgically implanted sham radio tags (with an imbedded passive integrated transponder [PIT] tag) with those of their cohorts tagged only with PIT tags in the Snake and Columbia rivers. Juvenile chinook salmon with gastrically implanted radio tags migrated significantly faster than either surgically radio-tagged or PIT-tagged fish, while migration rates were similar among surgically radio-tagged and PIT-tagged fish. The probabilities of PIT tag detection at downstream dams varied by less than 5% and were not significantly different among the three groups. Survival was similar among treatments for median travel times of less than approximately 6 d (migration distance of 106 km). However, for both gastrically and surgically radio-tagged fish, survival was significantly less than for PIT-tagged fish, for which median travel times exceeded approximately 10 d (migration distance of 225 km). The results of this study support the use of radio tags to estimate the survival of juvenile chinook salmon having a median fork length of approximately 150 mm (range, 127-285 mm) and a median travel time of migration of less than approximately 6 d.
Additional publication details
Comparison of migration rate and survival between radio-tagged and PIT-tagged migrant yearling chinook salmon in the Snake and Columbia rivers