Behavioral Responses of Representative Freshwater Fish Species to Electromagnetic Fields

Journal Article

Title: Behavioral Responses of Representative Freshwater Fish Species to Electromagnetic Fields
Publication Date:
April 10, 2013
Journal: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume: 142
Pages: 802-813
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Document Access

Website: External Link


Bevelhimer, M.; Cada, G.; Fortner, A.; Schweizer, P.; Riemer, K. (2013). Behavioral Responses of Representative Freshwater Fish Species to Electromagnetic Fields. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 142, 802-813.

Hydrokinetic energy is proposed as an environmentally preferred means of generating electricity from river and tidal currents. To resolve environmental concerns, it is important to investigate potential effects on aquatic organisms from the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that are created by underwater generators and transmission cables. We evaluated the behavioral responses of some representative freshwater fishes to static and variable EMFs in a series of laboratory experiments. Fish were exposed for 46 h to a static (DC) EMF with a permanent bar magnet or to a variable (AC) EMF with an electromagnet. Fish locations were recorded with a digital imaging system, and changes in activity level and distribution relative to the magnet position were quantified at 5-min intervals. Experiments with Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas, Redear Sunfish Lepomis microlophus, Striped Bass Marone saxatilis, Lake Sturgen Acipenser fulvescens, and Channel Catfish Icalurus punctatus produced mixed results. Except for Fathead Minnow, there was no effect on fish activity level. Only Redear Sunfish and Channel Catfish exhibited a change in distribution relative to the position of the magnet, with both species showing an apparent attraction to the EMF source. In a separate experiment, rapid behavioral responses of Paddlefish Polyodon spathula and Lake Sturgen to the onset of an AC field were recorded with high-speed video. Paddlefish did not react to a variable, 60-Hz magnetic field (i.e., like that emitted by an AC generator or cable), but Lake Sturgeon consistently responded with a variety of altered swimming behaviors. These results will be useful for positioning cables or generators to minimize interactions with EMF-sensitive species.

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