Marine depth use of sea trout Salmo trutta in fjord areas of Central Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Fish Biology. 2017, 535 . 10.1111/jfb.13463
The vertical behaviour of 44 veteran sea trout Salmo trutta (275–580 mm) in different marine fjord habitats (estuary, pelagic, near shore with and without steep cliffs) was documented during May–February by acoustic telemetry. The swimming depth of S. trutta was influenced by habitat, time of day (day v. night), season, seawater temperature and the body length at the time of tagging. Mean swimming depth during May–September was 1·7 m (individual means ranged from 0·4 to 6·4 m). Hence, S. trutta were generally surface oriented, but performed dives down to 24 m. Mean swimming depth in May–September was deeper in the near-shore habitats with or without steep cliffs (2·0 m and 2·5 m, respectively) than in the pelagic areas (1·2 m). May–September mean swimming depth in all habitats was slightly deeper during day (1·9 m) than at night (1·2 m), confirming that S. trutta conducted small-scale diel vertical movements. During summer, S. trutta residing in near-shore habitat progressively moved deeper over the period May (mean 1·1 m) to August (mean 4·0 m) and then reoccupied shallower areas (mean 2·3 m) during September. In winter (November and February), individuals residing in the innermost part of the fjords were found at similar average depths as they occupied during the summer (mean 1·3 m). The swimming depths of S. trutta coincide with the previously known surface orientation of salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis. Combined with previous studies on horizontal use of S. trutta, this study illustrates how S. trutta utilize marine water bodies commonly influenced by anthropogenic factors such as aquaculture, harbours and marine constructions, marine renewable energy production or other human activity. This suggests that the marine behaviour of S. trutta and its susceptibility to coastal anthropogenic factors should be considered in marine planning processes.