Effects of AC Magnetic Fields (MFs) on Swimming Activity in European Eels Anguilla anguilla

Data Type: 
Marine Scotland Data Portal

Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 6 No 8

Little is known about effects of magnetic fields (MFs, 50 Hz, measured in Teslas) associated with high voltage cables on behaviour of European eels. It has previously been shown in a field study that swimming speed of European eels in the Baltic Sea slowed when crossing a 130 kV AC power cable. However, no details of fish behaviour during passage over the cable were recorded in this study, and it is not known whether the observed reduction in swimming speed was due to the MF associated with the cable, or some other factor. The aim of the present study was to observe the response of European eels at the silver eel stage of their life-cycle to an AC MF of approximately 9.6 µT at a fine scale in a controlled laboratory setting. During 28 trials, each lasting 4 hours and using a single eel per trial, 10 eels (termed “swimmers”) made between 1 and 43 passes through coils. There was no evidence of a difference in movement due to the MF nor observations of startle or other obvious behavioural changes associated with the magnetic fields. Level of movement decreased as the experiments progressed and increased with eel size. Eel passage through coils was unaffected by whether or not they were activated. In applying these results it must be kept in mind that the sample size was small, nocturnal behaviour was not tested and the field strengths were lower than might be encountered in the wild in some situations.