Climate change and the future of salmon

San Juan Journal –

A salmon barbecue, Holly B’s pastries, Lopez Island Vineyard wines and music by Stanley and Kip Greenthal await you at the 11th annual SalmonAtion celebration of Lopez community marine research for salmon conservation, together with a slideshow report on results of last summer’s sampling of salmon, sand lance, herring, and plankton at Watmough Bay. It’s all happening free of charge from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Jan. 25 at Lopez Center.

The focus of this year’s SalmonAtion is the changing Salish Sea food web.

“Warmer seas are changing the marine ecosystem from the bottom up,” SalmonAtion host Russel Barsh — whose current research includes the diets of sand lance, herring and Chinook salmon — said. “Plankton biomass is increasing but not necessarily in ways that benefit fish, at least in the near term.”

Barsh likens the central Salish Sea to a garden that grows more lush and dense with warmer weather but mainly in weeds so that there is actually less to eat.

As director of the Lopez based conservation laboratory Kwiaht, Barsh has studied annual variation in the diet and health of juvenile Chinook migrating through the San Juan Islands since 2008, assisted by local volunteers.

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