The Fraser River. Photo: Wikipedia, GFDL/CC
Where Have All the Sockeyes Gone?
The Fraser River, on Canada's West Coast, used to serve as a spawning ground to about 10.6 million sockeye salmon every summer. But shockingly, the latest estimate puts the number of salmon to fewer than 1 million this year, a massive drop, despite the fact that the river has been closed to commercial and recreational fishing for three years in a row.Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, says: "No one's exactly sure what happened to these fish." That's scary.
Reuters reports on a few theories:
* Climate change may have reduced food supply for salmon in the ocean.
* The commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean may have infected them with sea lice, a marine parasite.
* The rising temperature of the river may have weakened the fish.
Based on estimates of the number of salmon returning to sea at the end of the spawning season, scientists think that the salmon are disappearing in the ocean, not the river.
Image: Wikipedia, Public domain
In the US, the populations of sockeye salmon in Snake River (Idaho, Oregon and Washington area) and in Lake Ozette, Washington, are listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered and threatened (respectively).
Let's hope this is a temporary thing (a disease, a parasite) and not a permanent population collapse.
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