We tested the efficacy of a dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) for imaging and enumeration of fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha redds in a spawning area below Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. The DIDSON uses sound to form near-video-quality images and has the advantages of imaging in zero-visibility water and possessing a greater detection range and field of view than underwater video cameras. We suspected that the large size and distinct morphology of a fall Chinook salmon redd would facilitate acoustic imaging if the DIDSON was towed near the river bottom so as to cast an acoustic shadow from the tailspill over the redd pocket. We tested this idea by observing 22 different redds with an underwater video camera, spatially referencing their locations, and then navigating to them while imaging them with the DIDSON. All 22 redds were successfully imaged with the DIDSON. We subsequently conducted redd searches along transects to compare the number of redds imaged by the DIDSON with the number observed using an underwater video camera. We counted 117 redds with the DIDSON and 81 redds with the underwater video camera. Only one of the redds observed with the underwater video camera was not also documented by the DIDSON. In spite of the DIDSON's high cost, it may serve as a useful tool for enumerating fall Chinook salmon redds in conditions that are not conducive to underwater videography.
Additional publication details
Imaging fall Chinook salmon redds in the Columbia River with a dual-frequency identification sonar