Researchers use sound to protect Ballard Locks salmon from predators

It’s not a buffet, okay 🦭

Ballard Locks Fish Ladder

The Ballard Locks fish ladder has areas to view the structure from above and below the waterline.

Photo by Burley Packwood

Hear something funky in Ballard? That’s the sound of researchers trying to protect our salmon from predators.

With the not-so-subtly-named Targeted Acoustic Startle Technology, certain notes emitted from devices will sound like nails on a chalkboard to sea lions + seals, who come our way each summer to feast on salmon.

While nobody likes to hate on a good meal (and the natural food chain is healthy to a point), these predators are starting to deplete an already declining salmon population.

We can’t blame them. Every year, thousands of our fishy friends swim up the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks eventually making their way to Issaquah Creek to spawn and lay eggs (bow-chicka-bow-wow). Coho salmon are the last of the fish to make the journey and will hit their peak in just a week or so.

With the new tech, this journey may be be a lot safer. Conservation managers say that while the number of predators remains the same, they’re staying further away from the ladder.

You can get a front row seat to the action at the Locks’ Fish Ladder Viewing Room any day between 7 a.m.-9 p.m. The sound isn’t audible to humans — so no need for earmuffs.

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