Over or under? Autonomous sensor fish reveals why overshot weirs may be safer than undershot weirs for fish passage
Many riverine fish species disperse downstream as eggs, juveniles, or adults, which can expose them to injury and death at hydraulic structures. Low-head weirs are one example of a structure that can kill fish, and this impact has been shown to be substantially higher for undershot weirs when compared to overshot weirs. In this study, autonomous sensor devices were released at an overshot and undershot weir under similar discharges to assess what stressors maybe contributing to differences in the survival rates of fish. Although the undershot weir was more likely to expose fish to rapid decompression, the intensity of decompression was mild and it is more likely that higher levels of fluid shear at the undershot are more damaging to early life stage and small-bodied fish. Both weirs showed potential for strike, but this could be managed through improvements in design.