Tag retention and tag-related mortality are concerns for any tagging study but are rarely estimated. We assessed retention and mortality rates for esophageal radio tag implants in adult sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka. Migrating sockeye salmon captured at the outlet of Lake Clark, Alaska, were implanted with one of four different radio tags (14.5 ?? 43 mm [diameter ?? length], 14.5 ?? 49 mm, 16 ?? 46 mm, and 19 ?? 51 mm). Fish were observed for 15 to 35 d after tagging to determine retention and mortality rates. The overall tag retention rate was high (0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.92-1.00; minimum, 33 d), with one loss of a 19-mm ?? 51-mm tag. Mortality of tagged sockeye salmon (0.02; 95% CI, 0-0.08) was similar to that of untagged controls (0.03 [0-0.15]). Sockeye salmon with body lengths (mid-eye to tail fork) of 585-649 mm retained tags as large as 19 ?? 51 mm and those with body lengths of 499-628 mm retained tags as small as 14.5 ?? 43 mm for a minimum of 33 d with no increase in mortality. The tags used in this study represent a suite of radio tags that vary in size, operational life, and cost but that are effective in tracking adult anadromous salmon with little tag loss or increase in fish mortality.
Additional publication details
Radio tag retention and tag-related mortality among adult sockeye salmon