Development of an acoustic telemetry tag for monitoring electromyograms in free-swimming fish

J Exp Biol. 1999 Oct;202 (Pt 19):2693-9. doi: 10.1242/jeb.202.19.2693.


We report the development of an acoustic telemetry tag used to monitor electromyograms (EMGs) remotely from free-swimming marine fish. The device described amplifies and filters the EMG and then converts the electrical waveform into a frequency-modulated acoustic signal that is transmitted through water. The signal is then received, demodulated and recorded by the receiving system. The EMG tag described has been tested on a range of species, including toadfish Opsanus &tgr;, spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias, yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares and eastern Pacific bonito Sarda chiliensis, in different tank environments. In certain tanks the fidelity with which the system replicates the EMG is sufficient to quantify accurately the onset, offset, duration, the integrated area under the absolute value of the signal and the number of signal zero crossings. This EMG tag will expand the scope of questions that can be addressed about the behavior and physiology of free-swimming fish.