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  Hydroacoustic Technology, Inc.    
  Fisheries Research Case Study
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA USA MONITORING 3D MOVEMENT OF

HTI Lead Biologists: Tracey Steig & Sam Johnston
  Live Real-time, 3D Tracking with Acoustic Tags

View PowerPoint Presentation  

The Event:

In September 2011, HTI and the AFS Student Subchapter co-hosted Fish Fest! at the Seattle Aquarium in conjunction with the American Fisheries Society (AFS) Annual Conference in 2011. In addition to breaking attendance records, HTI had the opportunity to acoustically tag and 3D track coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) and yellowtail rockfish (S. flavidus) with the Seattle Aquarium team.

Together, HTI and the Seattle Aquarium used Model 795 Acoustic Tags to track fish behavior in real-time as they traveled throughout the mammoth 120,000 gallon Window on Washington Waters (WOWW) tank.

During Fish Fest! guests watched tagged fish behavior as it happened in the tank and on the screen. It was fun to located tagged fish in the midst of over 800 fish and invertebrates that live in the 20 by 40 foot (6 by 12 m) tank. The various fish (including salmon, rockfish, lingcod, wolf eel) are indigenous to Pacific Northwest local waters. The tank was designed to replicate the seascape around Neah Bay, a richly populated marine environment located at the northwest tip of Washington. Inside the tank the water steadily surges swaying the kelp while a multitude of fish swim in and out of the exhibit’s large rock formations, which also serve as habitat for anemones, sea stars, urchins and coral. The exhibit offered a beautiful background and brilliant opportunity to share how scientists use acoustic telemetry in fisheries today.

The Result:

Senior scientist, Tracey Steig presented the various results from the Fish Fest! data at AFS 2012 in Minneapolis. Results included a review of the fine-scale 3D tracks as well as comparisons between individual fish tracks and different species behavior. He talked about how the fine-scale 3D tracks were achieved without tag collisions or false-positives. The importance of monitoring multi-species assemblages and species-specific interactions beyond the modeled environment in marine and freshwater populations on both large and small spatial scales (e.g., at oil platforms, hydrokinetic and wind turbine installations) were also discussed.

If you missed Tracey’s talk at AFS 2012, his presentation is embedded below. For questions about the methods used to track fish at the Seattle Aquarium or the telemetry equipment, contact Tracey or Sam at

See Project Pics

  Tracking Fish with Acoustic Tags
Tracking fish in the WOWW tank and projecting real-time acoustic data in real-time on the 16 ft. projector screen at the Seattle Aquarium.
Remotely accessing acoustic telemetry data can be done from virtually anywhere.
Various fish in the 120,000 gallon tank.
Senior scientists, Tracey Steig and Sam Johnston setting up the real-time acoustic telemetry demonstration.
"It was a huge event and a huge success. HTI's real-time 3D fish tracking technology is absolutely innovative and inspiring." Tim Carpenter, Curator of Fish & Invertebrates, Seattle Aquarium

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