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Keywords:

  • ultrasonic telemetry;
  • downstream migration;
  • European eel

Abstract  – To study the behaviour of silver eels (Anguilla anguilla L.) during their downstream migration, particularly near a hydroelectric power dam, we tagged nine eels with ultrasonic transmitters and tracked their paths in the River Mosel, Germany. The onset of migration coincided with the first flood event that followed the full moon but was independent of daytime, because migration and turbine passage occurred during both day and night. During migration eels swam actively downstream with a velocity of 0.3–1.2 m · s−1. When migrating eels arrived at the dam, they either passed through the turbines immediately or stayed upstream of the powerhouse for up to 8 days, showing a characteristic circling behaviour. Circling eels repeatedly approached the trashrack, sprinted upstream, and finally passed through the turbines with the next high water discharge. These observations are discussed with regard to the design of appropriate downstream passage facilities.