Atlantic Salmon Research: Scale Aging & Analysis of Emigration Patterns and Growth Project – Woods Hole, MA

Project Title: Atlantic Salmon Research: Scale Aging & Analysis of Emigration Patterns and Growth
Project Location: Woods Hole, MA
Project Leaders:
Project Time Frame: May 2024 – August 2024 (Flexible with student/mentor schedules)
Total Hours: up to 480 hrs
Summer Hour Allocation: 40 hrs/wk
Pay Rate: $17/hour

NOAA’s Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team monitors emigration of Atlantic salmon smolts in Maine rivers and studies the growth patterns in the scales from both juvenile and adult life stages of this endangered species. We examine the growth rings in scales because the patterns observed are characteristic of specific river populations and help identify returning adults. This research is conducted in collaboration with Maine’s Department of Marine Resources.

Scales provide a valuable record of growth in Atlantic salmon since they record patterns of growth over the lifetime of a fish, instead of providing only a snapshot of condition at one point in time as is observed through measures of length, weight, or lipid content upon capture. This position will contribute to a time series of age data collected from scales from Atlantic salmon smolts captured annually during the monitoring of smolt emigration since 1996. Student will have the opportunity to develop a Capstone project and access archived data and new data for use the project.

The intern will be involved in:

  • Preparing 2024 smolt scale samples for imaging
  • Imaging and aging prepared scales
  • Archiving and organizing all processed scales and associated scale images
  • Measuring scale images for intern’s project to be determined in first week, if applicable
  • Assisting with scale archiving process to preserve historic scale samples

Opportunities include:

  • Use of an image analysis system
  • Learning about the river and marine phases of Atlantic salmon life history
  • Learning about the factors influencing the growth of Atlantic salmon
  • Learning to interpret age and origin (hatchery or wild) of Atlantic salmon using scales
  • Learning about sample archiving methods
  • Accessing available data for a future Capstone, if appropriate.