Wednesday August 24, 2022


In the summer, hordes of salmon travel thousands of miles from the ocean to fill the streams and creeks around Lake Aleknagik. These waterways are an important part of the salmon life cycle, where adult fish come to spawn and then die.

The fish aren’t the only ones in these waters. Each year, researchers from the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program follow them upstream to survey the number of salmon that reach these spawning grounds.

On a cool, cloudy day in early August, Jackie Carter, a research scientist with the program, headed out with two university technicians to collect samples from the salmon. After crossing Lake Aleknagik in a skiff, the opening of Yako Creek came into view. Piles of fish thrashed and jumped in the shallow water.

The heavy, foul smell of rotting salmon hit immediately, and skeletons lined the shore. Carter said the researchers count all the fish, dead or alive.

“We literally have clickers in each hand and we walk and we click: Male, female, male, male, male, female, male,” she said.

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