For the past few months, scientists have been using high-tech trackers to look at the daily habits of lean and siscowet lake trout. The wait is finally over for some of the trackers.
Back in June, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources released 15 lake trout with special satellite trackers into Lake Superior. This study will look to see if the selection of depth has a genetic basis.
â??This is the first time that this type of technology has been used on fish in the entire great lakesâ?? said Shawn Sitar, fisheries research biologist. â??They have used it in the oceans with sharks and tunas, but this is the first implementation on fresh water fish and has great potential for studying many other species.â??
After months of waiting, results are finally coming back.
â??Today was a group of fish that we tagged in June that had a three-month missionâ?? said Sitar. â??Today was that three month mission end date. The tag popped up and transmitted to the satellite and from the position we got from the satellite we were able to go out there and locate the tag.â??
Finding the tag was a game of hot and cold. Every few minutes, a signal would let the crew know if they were headed in the right direction, or if they were getting colder.
â??Once we get close enough to the tag it just keeps telling us which direction to go and we just keep following that signal until we actually find the tagâ?? said Dan Traynor, fisheries technician.
After two hours, they finally spotted the tracker.
â??In a preliminary look at the data, we see that the siscowets inhabit the deep water a lot more than leans, but we also see some interesting behavior with siscowets where we are seeing them come to the surface quite often; on a daily basis in some instancesâ?? said Sitar. We are learning that these fish do actually move through the water column a lot more than we realized.â??
The study is about 1/3 of the way done and with a 100-percent recovery rate of tags, they can be reused for future studies.
â??This first batch was basically to sort of get our feet wet out there, see how the equipment works, how the tags work, and see how the fish respondâ?? said Traynor. â??Then we are just going to go from there.â??
The next tag is set to release in two weeks.