Sea Lamprey Control Sets Sail with New Technology
BY JENNA TEWS, LUDINGTON BIOLOGICAL STATION
maneuvering the RiverSurveyor on the AuSable River in Gaylord, Michigan.
Staff from the Sea Lamprey Control Program at the Ludington Biological Station kept a close eye on the discharge of Cattaraugus Creek, a tributary to Lake Erie, as an early spring lampricide treatment loomed. Accurate discharge measurements are crucial in planning and applying appropriate concentrations of lampricide necessary to kill the larvae of the invasive sea lamprey. With snow melt and spring rain, discharge in Cattaraugus Creek can increase from a few hundred cubic feet per second (cfs) to several thousand cfs in just a few hours. Estimating discharge with standard stream gauging equipment can be both challenging and dangerous, particularly when the stream bottom consists of slippery shale bedrock. In the past, if conditions were too dangerous for the crew to gauge, the discharge at various access points along the stream was estimated using the single US Geological Survey stream gauge located in the middle of the watershed. Providing more accurate estimates of stream discharge is highly desirable for planning and implementing lampricide treatments.
In the fall of 2012, Ludington staff learned of a newer technology that uses an Acoustic Doppler Profiler (ADP) to accurately measure stream discharge. After meeting with a product representative, who demonstrated how to use the ADP, it was clear that this technology was very applicable to measuring stream discharge, particularly in large rivers. The ADP was already being used by the Service’s Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) and without hesitation they agreed to loan it to the Ludington Biological Station.
Program, monitors the RiverSurveyor and software as it
measures discharge on the Cattaraugus River in
Gowanda, New York. Credit: USFWS
Jenna Tews and Matt Lipps met with Joseph Gerbyshak, Alpena FWCO, to receive training on this newer technology. Joseph demonstrated how the 9-beam ADP equipped with GPS mounts onto the SonTek Hydroboard and communicates with a computer on shore using a Bluetooth device. With a line run off the front of the Hydroboard the RiverSurveyor can be deployed from a bridge and pulled back and forth across the river without personnel having to enter the stream. The software and equipment is very user friendly, and after a couple hours of training the RiverSurveyor was ready to set sail in gathering data to assist the Sea Lamprey Control Program.
The RiverSurveyor was put to the test measuring discharge just prior to the lampricide treatment in Cattaraugus Creek in late March. This newer technology allowed the crew to collect data at sites that are unable to be gauged using the traditional wading method. The Riversurveyor was used at various sites all along the river and provided a solid foundation of flow data that assisted in a successful lampricide treatment.
Many thanks to Alpena FWCO for working together with the Sea Lamprey Control Program in sharing this technology, which provided accurate measures of stream discharge and reduced safety risks associated with gauging a large river.