Injectable Acoustic Microtransmitter

Battelle Number: 30341-E | N/A

Technology Overview

The Endangered Species Act requires actions that improve passage and survival rates for migrating salmonids and other fish species that sustain injury or mortality when passing through hydroelectric dams. The Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) is a sensing technology for detecting and tracking small fish used to evaluate the behavior and survival of juvenile salmonids migrating through the Federal Columbia River Power System. PNNL developed an extended-life small acoustic transmitter that can be injected instead of surgically implanted while significantly reducing its cost. The new transmitter has a mean lifetime of greater than 100 days (at a 3-second ping rate), will reduce the probability of adverse effects from implantation, and will provide additional benefits for tagged fish.


  • Reduction in the volume and the shape of the transmitters permit implantation by injection instead of surgical implantation (weighs 218 mg with a diameter of 3.38 mm).
  • Reduced weight/size and bio-handling and extended transmitter lifetime provide additional biological benefits and broaden the range of applications.
  • The transmitter significantly reduces costs by using injection instead of surgical implantation.
  • It enables the study of fish species and sizes that are too small for the current transmitter and provides information for the development of fish-friendly hydro systems internationally.

State of Development

Acoustic telemetry has been identified as a technology for observation of behavior and assessment of survival for juvenile Chinook salmon passing through the Federal Columbia River Power System. Considerable effort has been expended to understand the biological effects of implantation of acoustic transmitters in yearling and sub-yearling Chinook salmon. Much additional effort has gone into development of autonomous and cabled receiving systems that can be deployed at dams and elsewhere in the river to detect fish bearing acoustic transmitters and process the resulting detection data to track the fish and provide data necessary to estimate survival by dam route of passage.  Although its size meets current tag burden guidelines for most yearling Chinook salmon, reduction in size would reduce the possibility of adverse effects of implantation and would likely provide additional biological benefits for tagged fish. The current transmitter is too large for smaller juvenile Chinook salmon, particularly those found in the lower Columbia River and estuary that enter the river downstream of Bonneville Dam. Recent laboratory and in-field bio effects studies indicate that juvenile Chinook less than 95 mm in length (implanted with the current JSATS transmitter and PIT tag) would have reduced survival and growth (Brown et al. 2010; Rub et al. 2010). Reduction in the weight of Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) transmitters will provide biological benefits and broaden the range of applications. For further information on JSATS see


Available for licensing in all fields


acoustic, transmitter, tag, fish monitoring, hydroelectric, JSATS


EM-Siting & Permitting

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