How can we tell whether an acoustically tagged fish has been eaten by a predator? To answer this question of great importance for aquatic research studies, Hydroacoustic Technology, Inc. (HTI) developed a new technology. Patented in 2015, the Predation Detection Acoustic Tag (PDAT) is designed to detect predation events with the help of a unique digestible fuse. Stomach enzymes of the predatory fish break down the fuse, resulting in an open circuit that alters the signal of the tag to relay that the tagged fish has been eaten.
FISHBIO and HTI are collaborating to conduct tests of the PDAT in our Fish Lab. The objectives of this testing are to evaluate the effectiveness of the tag, and record how long it takes for the tag to detect a predation event. As part of the testing, juvenile rainbow trout are surgically implanted with the PDAT. Tagged fish are then fed to largemouth bass and continuously monitored for activation of the predation tag signal. The test allows us to compare the performance of the tag among different individual predators, and lays the groundwork for testing the tag in the field.