This study investigates the behavior of migrant eels as they approached the Patea hydroelectric dam on the West Coast of the North Island, New Zealand. Seventeen mature migrant eels (870-1,240 mm; 2,000-6,380 g) were implanted with coded acoustic transmitters and released. Their movements in the reservoir were monitored for 14 months with stationary data logging and manual tracking receivers. The downstream migration of sexually maturing eels was found to occur mainly at night, usually during, or immediately after, rainfall events. Eels tended to travel at the surface, within the upper 4 m of the water column, at speeds ranging from 16 to 89 cm/s. Upon reaching the headrace, eels typically spent time searching, presumably for an unobstructed downstream route. In order to aid downstream passage of eels at the Patea Dam, power station operators began spillway opening trials during peak migration periods. Although this allowed some migrant eels to safely pass over the dam, information on the relative effectiveness and cost of this method over other possible mitigation methods is still required. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2003.
Additional publication details
Downstream movement of mature eels in a hydroelectric reservoir in New Zealand