Sometimes it takes two

Biologists prepare to tandem track a flooded Missouri River in 2009 in search of telemetered Pallid Sturgeon.

During high water events, one tracking boat can’t effectively search many parts of the Missouri River for tagged fish.  Using two boats spaced equally across the width of the river tracking downstream in parallel, or tandem tracking, is done when water levels rise, or in very complex portions of the river such as the Missouri Recreational River.  Two boats tracking in tandem can detect fish effectively across a wider river and search behind wing dikes and sandbars where sturgeon hide during higher flows.  Each boat also has multiple hydrophones that point in several directions so that fish can be readily detected wherever they may be hiding.

Biologist Sabrina Davenport tandem tracks the Lower Missouri River during high water on June 2, 2011. Two boats (note boat out window) tracking in tandem can detect fish effectively across a wider river and turn to search behind wing dikes and sandbars where sturgeon hide during higher flows.

Since 2009, tandem tracking has become a regular search method utilized by USGS Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project biologists. Water conditions downstream of the Osage River (approximately 130 miles upstream of the Mississippi River confluence in St. Louis) have been consistently at a level where tandem tracking is necessary to sufficiently search that section of river.  Like single boat tracking, crews tandem track at about 6 miles per hour and cover 30-40 river miles a day.  Unfortunately, tandem tracking requires double the staff and resources to search the same length of river.  While the additional resources may be costly, the information about where sturgeon go during floods or extreme events, is very valuable to decision makers creating habitat for sturgeon along the length of the Lower Missouri River.

About Emily Pherigo

Emily is no longer with the Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project. When she was here, she was a biologist contracted to the Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project. Most of her time was spent at a computer performing QA/QC on data or updating figures and graphs most used by Aaron DeLonay. However, she occasionally made it to the river, where she enjoyed seeing pallid sturgeon and was reminded why she entered the natural resources field.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.