Incubation of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) embryos in cooling water discharge and the impacts of fluctuating thermal regimes on development Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Thermal discharges released from industrial cooling water systems represent a potential environmental risk to fish species that spawn in nearshore waters. We investigated the impacts of in situ incubation of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) embryos in the vicinity of a nuclear generating station. Over 3 consecutive years, fertilized embryos were deployed in Lake Huron using custom-built incubation chambers coupled with data loggers to monitor water temperature. Temperatures at sites in the vicinity of the thermal discharge were significantly elevated compared with reference locations, with mean winter temperatures up to 3 °C warmer. Temperatures were also more variable at these sites, with a significantly greater daily temperature range and rate of change. Embryos developing at discharge sites were significantly larger with smaller yolks than those from the reference stations, suggesting an advanced growth. This increased growth was supported by thermal data, with discharge sites predicted to be more than 10% advanced based on growth rate modelling. These temperature changes and increase in development rate are below thresholds for embryonic mortality but could potentially impact posthatch larval survival.

publication date

  • August 2016