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Response of Bighead Carp and Silver Carp to repeated water gun operation in an enclosed shallow pond

May 18, 2015

The Bighead Carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and Silver Carp H. molitrix are nonnative species that pose a threat to Great Lakes ecosystems should they advance into those areas. Thus, technologies to impede Asian carp movement into the Great Lakes are needed; one potential technology is the seismic water gun. We evaluated the efficacy of a water gun array as a behavioral deterrent to the movement of acoustic-tagged Bighead Carp and Silver Carp in an experimental pond. Behavioral responses were evaluated by using four metrics: (1) fish distance from the water guns (D); (2) spatial area of the fish's utilization distribution (UD); (3) persistence velocity (Vp); and (4) number of times a fish transited the water gun array. For both species, average D increased by 10 m during the firing period relative to the pre-firing period. During the firing period, the spatial area of use within the pond decreased. Carp were located throughout the pond during the pre-firing period but were concentrated in the north end of the pond during the firing period, thus reducing their UDs by roughly 50%. Overall, Vp decreased during the firing period relative to the pre-firing period, as fish movement became more tortuous and confined, suggesting that the firing of the guns elicited a change in carp behavior. The water gun array was partially successful at impeding carp movement, but some fish did transit the array. Bighead Carp moved past the guns a total of 78 times during the pre-firing period and 15 times during the firing period; Silver Carp moved past the guns 96 times during the pre-firing period and 13 times during the firing period. Although the water guns did alter carp behavior, causing the fish to move away from the guns, this method was not 100% effective as a passage deterrent.