- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) - Biologists hope a new underwater monitoring system will be able to give them an idea of how some endangered fish are using Oregon’s Link River.

In early December, crews will install 240 feet of plastic pipe equipped with a transponder detection system near the mouth of the Klamath Falls river, reported The Herald & News (https://bit.ly/1MVzIVu ). Small electronic tags with a unique ID number will be inserted into Lost River and shortnose sucker bellies, allowing the pipe to detect fish as they pass over the sensors.

The detection system will be an array of two rows of 12 pipes, each in 20-foot sections, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Klamath Falls office lead fish biologist Darrick Weissenfluh. They’ll be fastened with concrete anchor bolts and ratchet straps just upstream of a natural reef, where the water is shallow.

The Klamath Falls branch of the Fish and Wildlife Service is funding the $109,500 project. The system will run entirely on energy generated by solar power panels set up on city property adjacent to the river.

The array could be used to study Lost River and shortnose sucker growth, survival and movement for the next 10 years.

“It really depends on what information we get,” Weissenfluh said. “We need to better understand sucker movements up and down the Link River and through the Link River Dam.”

Both species were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1988 and have suffered from recent fish die-offs and poor survival rates.

Scientists have tagged about 30,000 Lost River and shortnose suckers, according to Weissenfluh. He said scientists believe 1,000 to 2,000 untagged adult suckers live in Lake Ewauna.

The Link River Dam has a fish ladder that allows suckers to move upstream into Upper Klamath Lake, but a transponder system on the ladder has shown that few suckers are using it.

“Annually, usually less than 20 suckers are using the fish ladder,” said Weissenfluh. “We don’t really know why.”

“Are there a substantial number of fish moving upstream past this first reef, but not getting to the fish ladder either because they can’t or because they are choosing to spawn in the Link River?” he asked. Research on that possibility hasn’t been conducted yet.

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Information from: Herald and News, https://www.heraldandnews.com

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