Deep-diving of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during their marine feeding migrations


Data from seven data storage tags recovered from Atlantic salmon marked as smolts were analyzed for depth movements and patterns of deep diving during the marine migration. The salmon mostly stayed at the surface and showed diurnal activity especially from autumn until spring. During the first months at sea the salmon stayed at shallower depths (<100 m). The salmon took short deep dives (>100 m), that were rare or absent during the first summer at sea but increased in frequency and duration especially in late winter. The maximum depth of the dives varied from 419 to 1187 m. Most of dives were short, (<5 h) but could last up to 33 h. The duration of dives increased in late winter until spring and the overall depth and maximum depth per dive increased exponentially over time. The initiation of the dives was more common in evenings and at night, suggesting nocturnal diving. We hypothesized that deep diving is related to feeding of salmon as mesopelagic fish can be important food for salmon during winter.

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We thank D.L. Scarnecchia for a critical review of the manuscript and appreciate valuable comments from two anonymous reviwers. Sincere thanks to several coworkers at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, especially Björn Theódórsson, Halla Kjartansdóttir and Eydís Njarðardóttir for their valuable contribution. The study was partially supported by the Salmonid Enhancement Fund in Iceland.

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Correspondence to Sigurður Már Einarsson.

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Einarsson, S.M., Guðjónsson, S., Jónsson, I.R. et al. Deep-diving of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during their marine feeding migrations. Environ Biol Fish 101, 1707–1715 (2018).

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  • Atlantic salmon
  • DST tags
  • Deep diving