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Infrared Technology Helping To Save Fish

Trout Water quality +3 more

US - A partnership between J.D. Irving Limited and the Canadian Rivers Institute is producing some of the first thermal maps in New Brunswick to protect fragile cold water habitats that Atlantic salmon and other fish species depend on for their survival.

The project uses an advanced thermal camera contracted from Oregon-based Watershed Sciences Inc., which is mounted on a JDI helicopter, reports New Brunswick Business Journal. That camera, using thermal infrared technology, acts like a pair of X-ray goggles that can reveal hidden underground water sources that act as crucial cold water retreats for fish species when the waters warm up during the summer.

"Salmon and brook trout get stressed when the temperatures start to warm up, and as a result of them becoming stressed, they can be more susceptible to disease," said Wendy Monk, a research scientist with the University of New Brunswick. "They can actually stop feeding properly and if the temperatures start rising further it can lead to increased mortality rates."

Dr Monk is working on the thermal mapping initiative with project leader, Allen Curry, director of Canadian Rivers Institute.

The cold water sources they are mapping are not all alike. Some are massive underground springs that feed rivers while others are small seeps that leak cold water into rivers, creating temperate zones that provide a refuge for fish species like salmon that do not do well in warm waters.

"Particularly with the idea of future climate change and potentially in the region we're going to see warmer temperatures, these cool water habitats are going to be even more important for these species," Dr Monk said.

Last year, the institute also partnered with JDI to map out cold water sources. The goal this year is to compare data from last year and see whether the sources were constant or whether they could change depending on things such as water levels.