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Electrofishing: A ‘Shocking’ Way to Monitor Fish Populations

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Ready for some electrofishing? Are the fish?

Although electrofishing might sound like an illegal or dangerous activity, it is actually the preferred method used by wildlife biologists and fisheries experts when they want to sample the health of any given waterway’s ecosystem or its population of different fish species.

A lake in northern Alabama was the site of a recent fish survey conducted by the Tennessee Valley Authority in order to track populations, size, and health of the fish, as reported by Yahoo News.

Despite some misconceptions by people, electrofishing is not harmful to the fish and they usually suffer no ill effects from the mild shock. Biologists use a boat equipped with a generator and a pair of fiberglass arms. Those arms support a metal pole that hangs out over the water. From that pole are three hanging metal cables which are connected to the generator via an insulated wire.

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Once the biologists have maneuvered the boat into position, a foot pedal sends a 6-amp electrical current into the water. This current momentarily stuns the fish within the effective radius and allows them to float to the surface, where they are then netted and placed inside an aerated tank on the boat.

The researchers then perform their measurement and assessment of the captured fish. Once they have collected their data, all the fish are released back into the water.

The gathered information then provides valuable insight on how to correctly manage each body of water, maintain a high level of fish populations, and in turn, fishing success by anglers.

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These electrofishing surveys can also sometimes yield eye-opening results when higher numbers of sizeable fish are found to be swimming in the lake then some people might believe.

Maintaining the health of our country’s ponds, lakes, rivers and streams will go a long way towards preserving the sport of angling well into the future and electrofishing is a great method to improve the management efforts that are required.

If you could borrow the electrofishing equipment, what lake or river would you take it on? What kind of fish would float to the top?

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Electrofishing: A ‘Shocking’ Way to Monitor Fish Populations