Dynamics of dissolved oxygen inside salmon sea-cages with lice shielding skirts at two hydrographically different sites
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAquaculture Environment Interactions. 2020, 12 559-570. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00384
Shielding skirts are widely used as a non-invasive preventive measure against salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on Atlantic salmon Salmo Salar L. in sea-cages. Low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) are reported from some sites, but not others. This disparity is usually explained by local variations in current flow and hydrography. The aim of this study was to investigate these local variations through vertical mapping of DO and hydrography at two hydrographically different sites equipped with shielding skirts. The two sites chosen, Fornes and Soløya, are in northern Norway and equipped with a permeable and non-permeable skirt, respectively. Over a period of three days, current speed and direction were recorded outside the cage, while DO and hydrography were measured both inside and outside the cage, above and below the skirt. At Fornes the DO inside the cage varied throughout the study period, while DO outside remained stable. The variation in DO inside the cage co-occurred with variations in strength and depth of a present pycnocline that broke down during the study period. At Soløya, DO levels were high throughout the study and there was no gradient in salinity, temperature or density indicating good vertical mixing. These data illustrates how the interaction between skirts and local conditions can influence the temporal and spatial variations of DO inside shielded cages and highlights the importance of studying local current conditions and hydrography when applying shielding skirts.