Wednesday September 27, 2023

Alaska Public Media

Scientists know one thing for sure about the collapse of Yukon River king and chum salmon: there’s more than one culprit. 

“It’s really hard and probably unrealistic to just point your finger at one thing and say that’s what’s doing it,” said Jayde Ferguson, a fish pathologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Researchers have identified many threats facing Yukon king and chum salmon, and those threats pop up at each stage of the salmon life cycle — when salmon hatch in freshwater streams, as they swim down the Yukon to the ocean, where they spend most of their lives and on their arduous journey back upriver to spawn and die. 

Scientists think many of these threats are connected to climate change. Ferguson studies one of them, a parasite named ichthyophonus, at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game lab in Anchorage.

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