The annual spawning migration of Pacific Coast salmon up the Columbia and Amur rivers has been analysed as an experiment on the maximum range of an unefuelled vehicle, since the fish do not eat during this migration. The fuel (primarily fat) available to real fish is compared to that computed for an equivalent rigid vehicle with the following performance specifications which may be regarded as optimum ones for marine vehicles.
1. A choice for the speed of ascent against the average river current corresponding to the least fuel consumption, without seeking systematically either low- or highvelocity water.
2. A drag coefficient corresponding to a turbulent boundary layer with no separation.
3. An overall efficiency of 24% for converting the heat of combustion of the fuel to directed kinetic energy in the wake. Under these assumptions, the vehicles usually require slightly more fuel than the corresponding fish which they are intended to approximate; in the case of blueback salmon, the vehicle requires about five times as much. One, therefore, concludes that the fish have a performance superior to that of the best engineered rigid vehicles, as defined and operated under the above three specifications. Suggested explanations for the apparently superior performance of the fish are:
(1) a deliberate seeking, by the fish, of low-velocity water close to the bottom or shoreline;
(2) the ability of the fish to maintain a laminar rather than turbulent boundary layer;
(3) the ability of the fish to extract energy from the turbulent velocity fluctuationsof the river.
Analysis of salmon counts over the Bonneville and Rock Island dams on the Columbia River shows that the average velocity of the fish upstream is influenced by the velocity of the water downstream in the following peculiar fashion, depending upon whether one considers water-velocity variations through the course of a year, or variations at a fixed season of the year, from one year to the next. The general effect of the water velocity as it varies through a year, is to slow the fish down when the water velocity is large (at the June flood peak) and to permit faster ascent when the water velocity is less, in both preceding and following months. But at a fixed season of the year, prior to the flood peak in June, relatively high-velocity water speeds the fish up. At a fixed season after the flood peak, relatively high-velocity water slows them down. These relationships are in agreement with other biological observations and with an analysis of navigation for minimum fuel consumption.
Data and methods are given permitting a calculation of the average water velocity in the Columbia River, from the mouth to the headwaters, for any season of the year.