Wednesday October 11, 2023

Alaska Public Media

University of Alaska Fairbanks associate professor of fisheries Peter Westley is clear that there’s nothing new about salmon straying into Arctic Ocean waters. Westley says the fish have long been occasionally observed and caught, but their numbers appear to be increasing.

“And we were interested in whether the change in the sort of frequency of salmon being encountered…is that a perhaps indicator that the salmon are not only showing up in the ocean but are showing up in rivers and are potentially working to establish populations in a new region,” Westley said.

Last month, Westley lead a team that aerially surveyed two Colville River tributaries, the Anaktuvuk and the Itkillik, and counted about 100 chum salmon equally split between the two Arctic rivers. He says movement of a species farther north is a clear signal of climate change.

“So in the past where those fish might have been sort of hopeful colonists showing up and kind of giving it a go, the conditions are just changing enough that we might be on the cusp of having it be a viable success story for the salmon,” he said.

Read more >

Link copied successfully