The Secret Lives of Salmon: Where are all the pinks?


Scientific tests performed by the Russian research vessel Kaganovsky were expected to harvest an abundance of pink salmon, which are more numerous than the other Pacific salmon species combined. That hasn’t happened.

With nearly 60 test fisheries complete across a wide swath of the Pacific Ocean between Haida Gwaii and the Aleutian Islands, pinks represent only 10 per cent of the catch.

“So, where are they?” asked Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher Chrys Neville.

“Pink salmon are also known for their strong even-odd year abundance pattern, with much larger returns to Asia, British Columbia, and Washington in odd years than even years,” she said in a recent mission update. “Since this is an odd year, we expected that pink salmon would dominate our catch.”

Neville and scientists from Russia, Canada, the U.S., Japan and South Korea have been aboard the ship since mid-February conducting test fisheries on a grid pattern, hoping to learn more about the ocean-going lives of Pacific salmon species.

But for every question they have answered, a new mystery appears.

Some of the elusive pink salmon caught during an international research voyage on the Russian vessel Kaganovsky. For Randy Shore story [PNG Merlin Archive]

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Some of the elusive pink salmon caught during an international research voyage on the Russian vessel Kaganovsky.

“It’s possible that the pink are at a low abundance and we will find that out in September and October when they are due to return,” said Dick Beamish, the organizer of the expedition. “But pink salmon are surviving better in recent years than they have in recorded history.”

The other possibility is that the expedition has somehow missed their rearing grounds and they are looking in the wrong place.

How and where Pacific salmon intermingle in the …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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