The abundance and distribution of fishes in the cooling-water canal system of an electric generating station, with emphasis on the effect of cooling towers.
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Trawl collections were taken from June 1974 to September 1975 to determine the abundance and distribution of fishes in the canal system of the Houston Lighting and Power Company's P.H. Robinson Generating Station with emphasis on evaluating the effect of cooling towers. Surface and bottom, day and night collections were taken from two stations in the intake canal, two stations in the discharge canal afferent to the cooling towers and one station in the discharge canal efferent to the cooling towers. A total of 91,770 specimens of 63 taxa were taken in 464 collections. Abundant species included bay anchovy, Anchoa mitchilli; Gulf menhaden, Brevoortis patronus; Atlantic croaker, Micropogon undulatus; striped anchovy, Anchoa hepsetus; spot, Leiostomus xanthurus; sand seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius; and sea catfish, Arius felis. These seven species accounted for 98.5% of the total catch. Striped anchovy, bay anchovy, sea catfish, and sand seatrout had peak abundance in the intake canal during summer, but were generally absent from the discharge canal. Gulf menhaden, spot and Atlantic croaker were most numerous during winter months and were often present in the discharge canal at this time. There was evidence from length frequency data that the spot and Atlantic croaker had established resident populations in the discharge during winter. In general, most fish captured in the discharge canal were recruited from the intake canal via impingement on the plant's revolving intake screens and subsequent sluicing to the discharge. The number of organims captured in the discharge canal was also dependent on their survival and retention time. During the summer, catches from the discharge canal were generally quite small both afferent and efferent to the cooling towers, and differed little from catches made prior to the construction of the cooling towers. Therefore, it appears that the cooling towers have been generally ineffective in promoting the survival of fishes.