1. Why use a large-scale array of acoustic receivers installed permanently on the seafloor?
    A worldwide array of acoustic receivers has the potential to change our understanding of the ocean in the same way that the telephone changed our ability to communicate. The fact is that we know little about the ocean survival and migration of marine animals, even commercially important or endangered species, and this limits our ability to best conserve them. Ocean conditions can vary markedly between regions and over time, and there is evidence that climate change may contribute to these differences. We are aware of no other technology capable of tracking populations of animals in a cost-effective, long-term, large-scale and experimental manner. PIT tags have a limited range; radio-telemetry cannot penetrate seawater; satellite tags can only transmit data when they break the surface; and surveys based on nets that catch and kill the animals only give Point A and Point B information, nothing in between, and tend to be limited by the survey technique itself. The arrays that Kintama has deployed prove that acoustic technology can be used to answer global key questions about movements, behaviour and survival.
  2. Why is it important to track/study salmon in the ocean?
    Because salmon are anadromous (they live mainly in the ocean but breed in freshwater), they migrate through many different ecosystems during their short life cycle. In the Pacific Northwest much of the research has been concentrated in freshwater rivers and lakes because it is logistically difficult to study salmon during the ocean phase of their migration. As a result, little is known about juvenile salmon survival in the early marine environment, which is a critical life history phase that affects the number of adults returning to spawn 2-3 years later. By tracking juvenile salmon once they migrate from their natal rivers, we can document migration behavior and determine how ocean conditions affect survival - particularly important given global warming.
  3. How big do the fish have to be to carry tags?
    Our experience for salmon is that smolts as small as 12-14 cm (fork length) can carry 7 and 9 mm diameter tags (the precise minimum size depends on species and stock). For the new 6 mm tags, our tag effects studies suggest that animals as small as 10 cm can be tagged with minimal mortality or effect on behaviour and health. However, because of battery limitations these tags have a limited life of a few months. At the other end of the spectrum, animals of 2 kg and larger can be implanted with a tag that has a projected 10 year lifespan. The size of tag to animal depends on the anatomy of the animal in question. Tag lifespan depend on the size and programming used.
    Larger tags provide more options in terms of programming - Kintama has successfully pioneered the use of “sleeper tags”, transmitting actively as the smolts leave the rivers and travel up the coast, then going to sleep during ocean years, only to turn back on when the adult salmon returned to British Columbia.
  4. What species can be tracked using acoustic telemetry?
    Acoustic telemetry can be used to track just about any species that can carry an acoustic tag (though so far, we haven’t been able to keep tags in jellyfish).
  5. How long do the tags transmit?
    Battery life for acoustic transmitters depends on the tag size, the transmission schedule, and the signal strength. Kintama has developed tag transmission specifications that optimize detection on different array configurations that also maximize battery life. Tags will last longer as the technology develops and miniaturizes – during the last 10 years, many more options have become available.
  6. What sensors are available for tags and receivers?
    Currently, tags are available from VEMCO that can be equipped with sensors to detect temperature, pressure and acceleration. Next generation receivers that will be commercially available in the near future will be able to host a range of oceanographic sensors through a standard socket port.
  7. How well do the listening lines perform?
    The design of the original POST pilot phase array led to an approximately 90% detection efficiency for V9-6L acoustic tags, and approximately 70% detection efficiency for the smaller (and lower acoustic power) V7 tags. These performance values were achieved for the marine arrays maintained by Kintama within the Salish Sea area. If equipment is lost (eg because of fishing activities), then this obviously reduces the detection efficiencies. We are aware of other researchers losing up to 50% of their equipment because of poor array design and deployment. If you are using existing arrays as part of your experiment you will be constrained by their detection efficiency. However, with the Sentinel ArrayTM, it is possible to design your individual experiment according to precision goals and budget.
  8. How effective is tag implantation surgery?
    We have consistently demonstrated close to 100% survival and tag retention in our studies. Our publications section lists a number of publications that summarize these data.
  9. What is the SentinelTM array?
    First generation arrays deployed by Kintama, and now widely copied by others were based on broad assumptions with respect to engineering and scientific study designs. The pilot array was developed to demonstrate proof of concept for a specific class of research questions concerning small fish (salmon smolts) and to validate operational performance of the array. It was always clear that array design for one specific species of fish would not necessarily be suitable for another species that exhibits a different behavior and migration pattern, or for which different scientific questions are being addressed; but operating the first generation arrays has allowed Kintama to generate and refine models that can adequately meet such requirements. Our SentinelTM Array provides the optimal approach for precisely and accurately measuring the movement and survival of free-ranging marine and migratory animals across continental shelves world-wide. The fundamental premise of the SentinelTM Array is to maximize both the statistical precision of the survival estimates, and the yield of biological information, while identifying the lowest cost array design that meets these goals. Kintama’s algorithms minimize the number of receivers and tags needed by optimizing the array geometry and tag programming, overall equipment and tag costs.  
  10. What QA/QC procedures are in place for the data?
    Quality assurance and control is paramount to the successful operation of our data delivery service. Rigorous QA/QC is conducted during each step of the process: equipment preparation prior to field work, field tagging and receiver deployment, data harvesting, data review, and data delivery. We continue to refine and expand our QA/QC methodologies, aiming for processes and data that give quality second to none.
  11. I've found a Kintama tag or receiver; whom do I contact?
    If you have found Kintama equipment, please contact: Email: info@kintama.com Toll-free tel: 1-866-Kintama (546-8262)* *Please use this telephone number only to report found equipment.