Fish research group needs help to 'fish' equipment with data out of lake

A remote acoustic receiver has been missing for several weeks but the Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group is pretty sure they know where the receiver can be found.

Receiver that holds valuable data is at the bottom of Buffalo Pound Lake in Saskatchewan

The remote acoustic receiver is the black cylinder shown here. The receiver is attached at one end to the floating buoy and at the other end to a boat anchor. The attachment to the buoy failed so the receiver sank to the bottom. (Submitted by Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group)

A remote acoustic receiver has been missing for several weeks but the Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group is pretty sure they know where the receiver can be found.  

"It's at the bottom of the lake," said Chris Somers, a biology professor with the University of Regina. Somers and his students make up the Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group. 

"It's one of a network of receivers that listen for fish with transmitters we've put on them. It records where the fish are and what they're doing on Buffalo Pound [Lake]." 

The receiver sank after the attachment to the buoy failed. (Submitted by Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group)

He says the receiver was moored to a floating buoy and the chain that attaches to that buoy was somehow broken.

"The most obvious [thing] that could have happened is that a propeller from a boat hit it." 

He believes the receiver should still be tied to its anchor line and the anchor on the lake bottom. Attempts earlier in the summer to retrieve the unit were hampered by poor water clarity due to algae.

It's only in about three metres of water and a couple hundred metres from shore, but the research group hasn't been able to get a precise location. 

Looking for volunteers

The group can still communicate with the receiver. 

If they get good weather — without any wind or waves — Somers said they might be able to more precisely determine the receiver's location, and could use grappling equipment to grab the anchor line and bring the unit up. Otherwise, they'll have to hire a commercial diver, which is an expensive proposition. 

Somers said they'd also be happy to hear from volunteer anglers with good sonar equipment that can help locate the anchor line, or volunteer divers or snorkelers who don't mind 10 C water.  

If the group can't retrieve the receiver, Somers said, it will be a significant loss of information. 

The data they are gathering looks at how how fish use Buffalo Pound Lake, which is just northwest of Regina.

"It's a long, linear lake with wetlands, development with resort communities and other areas that are undeveloped," said Somers.

"We really don't know where fish spend their time, and that's what we're trying to find out." 

Those who want to lend a hand to the research group can contact chris.somers@uregina.ca.

About the Author

Sharon Gerein

Sharon Gerein is the producer for CBC Radio One's The Afternoon Edition in Saskatchewan.