Behavioral and kinematic properties and capacities of wild migratory salmonid fishes swimming upstream and jumping up waterfalls generally have played only minor roles in the design and construction of passageways intended to help these fishes get past dams and other human-made obstacles blocking their movements. This paper reports the results of an experimental study of relevant behavioral and kinematic properties of adult kokanee salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) jumping up waterfalls as they migrate upstream. We used a portable, adjustable apparatus to study in the field fish responding to artificial waterfalls under a range of flow conditions. We observed fish under conditions of varying water flow rates, pool depths, fall heights and fall angles. We analyzed digital video recordings of their behaviors. Kokanee salmon spontaneously jump up waterfalls within a relatively narrow range of conditions, including low flow speeds, near vertical angles and pool depth to fall height ratios near 1.0. Preferred values for each parameter are, to some extent, dependent on other parameters. In contrast to previous misconceptions, jumping behavior is initiated by running S-start accelerations from beneath the boils formed in the plunge pools below waterfalls, as opposed to C-start standing jumps from the surface. S-starts are immediately followed by burst swimming to the point of takeoff at the surface. These results can contribute to an improved basis for developing designs of fish passageways that may ultimately make them more effective and efficient.
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