How to monitor Delta Smelt and other sensitive fish without harming them? Try the SmeltCam

My latest PEARL (short news item) for Estuary News covers a new paper in the journal San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science establishing the safety and, more importantly, efficacy of a nifty piece of technology: the SmeltCam.


Monitoring Delta smelt with an underwater camera could be safer and more effective than with a traditional trawl. Standard smelt surveys rely on the use of boat-driven nets, which trap fish by funneling them from the wide mouth of the net to the closed end (known as the cod end). To check their catch, researchers must pull the net and its contents from the water. But this additional handling can harm and even kill the same fish that wildlife agencies are trying to save with the support of robust, long-running monitoring efforts. There may be a better way: According to a new study in the June 2021 issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, the use of an underwater camera—the “SmeltCam,” developed about a decade ago by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research fish biologist Frederick Feyrer—could provide comparable data with less stress by simply filming the fish as they pass through the net. 

 Read the rest of my article here.