Long-Life Acoustic Telemetry Device

Battelle Number: 30678-E | N/A

Technology Overview

From resource studies to regulatory protection monitoring, biologists must be able to reliably track aquatic animals throughout their lifecycles. Current options can be too bulky for smaller fish, have short lifetimes, and can’t track over long distances or through noisy environments like hydroelectric dams. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s small, long-life acoustic telemetry device solves these problems.

With a length of 24 mm, diameter of 5 mm, and dry weight of 0.7 g, the acoustic telemetry device or tag can be attached to aquatic animals or inanimate objects. The tag transmits a coded acoustic signal at 416.7 kHz with a selectable source level between 159 and 163 dB relative to 1 µPa at 1 m. This signal relays identification, location, and other information about a tagged fish to a receiver, which converts the signal into digital data that can be used for tracking. Unlike other such devices on the market, PNNL’s long-life acoustic telemetry device is designed for tagging a greater variety of fish, including sturgeon, adult lamprey, and adult eels, which are currently difficult to tag because of their sinuous bodies. It can detect its host up to 500 meters away in three dimensions. It can track in real-time or as a function of time.

The expected operational lifetime is one year at a signal pulse rate interval of 15 seconds. Features include configurable pulse rate interval and tag code, optional temperature measurement, alternating codes, and delayed start (hibernation mode). The technology has been deployed for long-term tracking of juvenile sturgeon.


This long-distance acoustic telemetry device is ideal for

  • Tracking behavior of small juvenile (< 1 year old) sturgeon
  • Long-term monitoring of adult fish, including sturgeon, lamprey, and eel
  • Tracing movements through noisy environments, such as fish ladders and spillways
  • Mobile tracking because of the greater detection range.


  • Enhances probability of detection with a 500-m detection range in three dimensions
  • Can be used over longer time periods and in noisy environments
  • Can be attached to a greater variety of fish, including sturgeon, lamprey, and eels, which stymy current technologies


Available for licensing in all fields


acoustic telemetry, fish tracking, fish monitoring, natural resource monitoring, tagging, tracking, monitoring, dams, sturgeon, lamprey, eel


EM-Siting & Permitting

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