Chips come to the aid of fish behaviour monitoring

Sensors similar to those used in computer games consoles are to be planted into fish to help scientists better understand their movements under water

The three-axis accelerometers, which can detect movement in any direction just as in Nintendo Wii remote controls, will be used to learn more about the habits of fish by studying how they move about and measuring their metabolic rate.

Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said: “This brings a new meaning to fish and chips. It is incredible to think that the same technology we use to play computer games could eventually help us in our predictions of future fish stocks. This shows the ingenuity of our scientists in striving to improve our understanding of the natural world.”

Cefas has already tested an electronic tag that can log every time a fish opens its mouth, which they can use to track behaviour or location.

The tags, which cost up to £800 each to produce and have been funded by Defra, work by installing a magnet in the jaw of a fish, with a sensor that reads the changes in the magnetic field as it opens and closes its mouth.

The scientists found that the tag was so successful at keeping track of fish activity in trials that they are now planning to use a full production version to monitor feeding in wild cod in the open seas.

Following the trial with the electric tag, attention is now turning to developing the Wii-style sensors to give an even better picture of fish activity in the wild.

Photo: Nick Smith

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