Behavioral responses of sub-adult Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) to electromagnetic and magnetic fields under laboratory conditions

McIntyre, Andrew III.  MS Thesis

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by high voltage (HV), submarine transmission cables leading from offshore wind energy generation facilities could affect foraging or migratory behaviors of electro-receptive fishes, including endangered Atlantic Sturgeon. However, no published studies have quantitatively evaluated the possible behavioral effects of EMF exposure on sturgeon during residence in coastal waters. This study evaluated behavioral responses by sub-adult Atlantic Sturgeon to electromagnetic and magnetic fields under controlled laboratory conditions. Fabricated EMF generators were used to emulate a range of field EMF conditions that migratory fishes could encounter in proximity to submarine HV sources. Sensor arrays and digital video recorders synoptically quantified EMF conditions and fish behaviors during experimental trials. This thesis will describe the unique, experimental EMF generator/sensor array, present results of the behavior study, and suggest implications of the findings for Atlantic Sturgeon management and conservation. 45 trials were conducted over the course of the study. Study fish were subjected to 3 different field strengths (5µT, 100 µT, 1000 µT), generated using both AC and DC current. Time spent in generated field area, number of passes through the field area, and swimming speed were used to quantify behavioral changes in test subjects. From the data collected and analyzed there was no evidence indicating a change in fish behavior due to the influence of field strengths, field orientations, or field types used during the study.

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