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Tracking Fish in the Chesapeake Bay

Equipment recently deployed in the Chesapeake Bay is already giving scientists and resource managers insight into fish behavior. Arrays of acoustic telemetry receivers let researchers know when fish that have been tagged swim near the receivers. The data is helping researchers increase knowledge about fish, their migrations, and how they use different habitat areas in the Chesapeake Bay.

Acoustic Receivers Around the Bay

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) is working with partners to help researchers get data from five groups of receivers. Three arrays form gates across strategic points in northern, middle, and southern bay.

Impressive Data after Just One Year

Data from each of the roughly 30 total acoustic receivers is delivered to researchers via the Mid-Atlantic Acoustic Telemetry Observing System.

Even though the arrays have only been in the water for less than a year, they have reported lots of action. The southern array has provided a great set of data for researchers. From March to October 2021 those receivers noted:

  • 3,824 “hits” of identifiable, tagged fish
  • Six different species
  • Fish involved in 14 research projects have been identified

And while the statistics are pretty cool, the data behind those stats are helping researchers and resource managers learn more about these species. Learning more about fish migrations helps us understand more about their life cycles and how the species interact. It can also inform efforts to sustainably manage species that are commercially harvested.

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