What Can Humans Do to Save the Pacific Northwest’s Iconic Salmon?
The fish is facing an upstream struggle to survive. Can human ingenuity find a solution?
by Priscilla Long
Wild Pacific salmon are delicious to eat. But they mean more than a “tasty morsel.” Wild salmon and steelhead are iconic of wildlife, of indigenous Northwest lifestyles, of the streams they spawn in, of the ocean they spend half their lives in. Wild Pacific salmon stand for the Pacific Northwest.

They also stand for our present ecological emergency, what scientists term the Sixth Great Extinction, caused by global warming, invasive species and habitat degradation.

In the Pacific Northwest, 19 populations of wild salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. On the Skagit River these include chinook and steelhead. These are, of course, extant runs. Salmon have already gone extinct in 40 percent of their historical range…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)
photo: Chinook Salmon, by Elaine Thompson/AP Images

What Can Humans Do to Save the Pacific Northwest’s Iconic Salmon?

The fish is facing an upstream struggle to survive. Can human ingenuity find a solution?

by Priscilla Long

Wild Pacific salmon are delicious to eat. But they mean more than a “tasty morsel.” Wild salmon and steelhead are iconic of wildlife, of indigenous Northwest lifestyles, of the streams they spawn in, of the ocean they spend half their lives in. Wild Pacific salmon stand for the Pacific Northwest.
They also stand for our present ecological emergency, what scientists term the Sixth Great Extinction, caused by global warming, invasive species and habitat degradation.
In the Pacific Northwest, 19 populations of wild salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. On the Skagit River these include chinook and steelhead. These are, of course, extant runs. Salmon have already gone extinct in 40 percent of their historical range…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

photo: Chinook Salmon, by Elaine Thompson/AP Images

alphynix
alphynix:

Oncorhynchus rastrosus, the “sabertooth salmon”. Reaching up to 2.7m long (9ft), this enormous fanged fish lived along the Pacific coast of North America from 13 mya to sometime in the last couple million years — barely missing encountering modern humans, in geological time.
Aside from the hooked “saberteeth” at the tip of its snout, O. rastrosus had few teeth and very large gill rakers — suggesting it primarily fed on plankton, similarly to its modern relative the sockeye salmon.
[Available on Redbubble!]

alphynix:

Oncorhynchus rastrosus, the “sabertooth salmon”. Reaching up to 2.7m long (9ft), this enormous fanged fish lived along the Pacific coast of North America from 13 mya to sometime in the last couple million years — barely missing encountering modern humans, in geological time.

Aside from the hooked “saberteeth” at the tip of its snout, O. rastrosus had few teeth and very large gill rakers — suggesting it primarily fed on plankton, similarly to its modern relative the sockeye salmon.

[Available on Redbubble!]

usfwspacific

usfwspacific:

School’s almost out for the summer and so are these endangered Hood Canal steelhead at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery in Washington state. Steelhead are Washington’s state fish and for 100 years, they have been declining to alarming numbers. It has been estimated that between 300,000 to 800,000 steelhead returned to the Puget Sound region annually just a century ago, only a fraction of them are returning today.

Learn how federal agencies in the Pacific Northwest are…

recovering salmon and steelhead

Photo credit: Florian Graner

Tiny Fish May Cure Salmon Farming’s Environmental Problem
Whole Foods’ pesticide ban is changing salmon farming.
by Claire Leschin-Hoar
It may not look like anything important, but see that adorable little fish in the photo above? It’s a lumpsucker from Norway, and it may hold the answer to one of salmon farming’s most vexing problems: destructive sea lice and the chemicals commonly used to stop them.
Near the tiny island of Indre Kvaroy, just off the central coast of Norway, I recently visited the family-owned salmon farm Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, which has been using those sweet little lumpsuckers instead of chemicals or pesticides to keep their salmon pens free of sea lice—and so far, the results look promising.
If the term “lice,” sea or not, has you crinkling your nose, you’d be justified. Sea lice are marine parasites that attach themselves to other host fish—in this case, salmon—typically feeding off the mucus and skin of the fish, and possibly lowering the salmon’s immune system, leaving it susceptible to other diseases. Environmentalists say it’s the transfer of sea lice from farmed salmon to wild salmon that can threaten the health of wild stocks…
(read more: TakePart.org)
photograph by Claire Leschin-Hoar

Tiny Fish May Cure Salmon Farming’s Environmental Problem

Whole Foods’ pesticide ban is changing salmon farming.

by Claire Leschin-Hoar

It may not look like anything important, but see that adorable little fish in the photo above? It’s a lumpsucker from Norway, and it may hold the answer to one of salmon farming’s most vexing problems: destructive sea lice and the chemicals commonly used to stop them.

Near the tiny island of Indre Kvaroy, just off the central coast of Norway, I recently visited the family-owned salmon farm Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, which has been using those sweet little lumpsuckers instead of chemicals or pesticides to keep their salmon pens free of sea lice—and so far, the results look promising.

If the term “lice,” sea or not, has you crinkling your nose, you’d be justified. Sea lice are marine parasites that attach themselves to other host fish—in this case, salmon—typically feeding off the mucus and skin of the fish, and possibly lowering the salmon’s immune system, leaving it susceptible to other diseases. Environmentalists say it’s the transfer of sea lice from farmed salmon to wild salmon that can threaten the health of wild stocks…

(read more: TakePart.org)

photograph by Claire Leschin-Hoar

Freshwater fishes are an integral component of our environment…
yet large gaps persist in our scientific knowledge of their diversity, distribution, and ecology. 
Several conservation groups recently joined forces to announce the first “Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz”, which will allow non-specialists to upload photographs of freshwater fishes observed in their natural habitat, along with details of where and when they saw the fish. 
In addition to providing useful data about the world’s freshwater fishes, this initiative is intended to raise awareness of the threats faced by our planet’s freshwater fishes and the importance to all of us of preserving unpolluted, well-functioning freshwater ecosystems. Although most fish species spend their lives in either freshwater or marine habitats, some, such as many salmon, move between the sea and freshwater during their lives, connecting these habitats in ecologically important ways. 
Listen to Encyclopedia of Life’s One Species at a Time podcast about one group’s efforts to educate schoolchildren all across British Columbia, in western Canada, about how the actions and choices all of us make in our daily lives impact Chinook Salmon and the habitats in which they live. Listen to the podcast: Encyclopedia of Life Read the news story: Globe News Wire Explore BioBlitz resources on EOL: EOL BioBlitz The One Species at a Time podcast series is supported by the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Freshwater fishes are an integral component of our environment…

yet large gaps persist in our scientific knowledge of their diversity, distribution, and ecology.

Several conservation groups recently joined forces to announce the first “Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz”, which will allow non-specialists to upload photographs of freshwater fishes observed in their natural habitat, along with details of where and when they saw the fish.

In addition to providing useful data about the world’s freshwater fishes, this initiative is intended to raise awareness of the threats faced by our planet’s freshwater fishes and the importance to all of us of preserving unpolluted, well-functioning freshwater ecosystems. Although most fish species spend their lives in either freshwater or marine habitats, some, such as many salmon, move between the sea and freshwater during their lives, connecting these habitats in ecologically important ways.

Listen to Encyclopedia of Life’s One Species at a Time podcast about one group’s efforts to educate schoolchildren all across British Columbia, in western Canada, about how the actions and choices all of us make in our daily lives impact Chinook Salmon and the habitats in which they live.

Listen to the podcast: Encyclopedia of Life

Read the news story: Globe News Wire

Explore BioBlitz resources on EOL: EOL BioBlitz

The One Species at a Time podcast series is supported by the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


JOBS:  USFWS_Pacific Region
“I never would have guessed that I would be earning college credits while swimming with local trout and salmon populations!" 
- Travis Hendrick, USFWS intern & Evergreen State College student. From stream electrofishing and snorkeling to youth education and estuary sampling, USFWS interns often find themselves trading university classrooms for schools of fish or books for hiking boots. Read more about the adventures of Travis and learn more about USFWS internships: 
http://bit.ly/15fESKhPhoto credit: Roger Tabor/USFWS

I never would have guessed that I would be earning college credits while swimming with local trout and salmon populations!"

- Travis Hendrick, USFWS intern & Evergreen State College student.

From stream electrofishing and snorkeling to youth education and estuary sampling, USFWS interns often find themselves trading university classrooms for schools of fish or books for hiking boots. Read more about the adventures of Travis and learn more about USFWS internships:

http://bit.ly/15fESKh

Photo credit: Roger Tabor/USFWS

Endangered Ocean Creatures Beyond the Cute and Cuddly

by Emily Frost

Our oceans are taking a beating from overfishing, pollution, acidification and warming, putting at risk the many creatures who make their home in seawater. But when most people think of struggling ocean species, the first animals that come to mind are probably whales, seals or sea turtles.

Sure, many of these large (and adorable) animals play an important part in the marine ecosystem and are threatened with extinction due to human activities, but in fact, of the 94 marine species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), only 45 are marine mammals and sea turtles. As such, these don’t paint the whole picture of what happens under the sea. What about the remaining 49 that form a myriad of other important parts of the underwater web?

These less charismatic members of the list include corals, sea birds, mollusks and, of course, fish. They fall under two categories: endangered or threatened. According to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (pdf), one of the groups responsible for implementing the ESA, a species is considered endangered if it faces imminent extinction, and and a species is considered threatened if it is likely to become endangered in the future. A cross section of these less-known members of the ESA’s list are described in detail here…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

(photos: T - Atlantic Salmon by E. Peter Steenstra/USFWS; ML - Short-tailed albatross by USFWS; MR - White abalone by John Butler, NOAA; B - Staghorn Coral by Albert Kok)

Demolition dam: Why dismantle a huge river barrier?
A year ago today the Elwha Dam in Washington state came down, after blocking salmon access to approximately 70 miles of pristine habitat and bull trout migratory corridors in the Elwha River for nearly 100 years. 
The dam’s removal will help revive a threatened salmon run on the river and enable the restoration of sacred tribal sites flooded decades ago.

The Elwha dam was built in 1913 in what is now the Olympic National Park. A second hydro-electric dam a few miles away - the Glines Canyon dam, built in 1927—has already been demolished as part of the biggest project of its kind in US history…
The park is home to the Klallam tribe, whose identity is strongly connected with the river and with salmon fishing. The failure to build fish ladders when the dams were originally built had decimated what was once one of the richest salmon runs outside Alaska.
Adding new ladders would have proved prohibitively expensive. And the dams also needed major upgrades because they no longer met modern environmental standards or produced energy at an efficient price.
The BBC went to see the drilling and explosions in action and to find out how the salmon will be reintroduced to the river.
(read more: U.S. Fish and wildlife Service)
(photo: Kate Benkert - USFWS)

Demolition dam: Why dismantle a huge river barrier?

A year ago today the Elwha Dam in Washington state came down, after blocking salmon access to approximately 70 miles of pristine habitat and bull trout migratory corridors in the Elwha River for nearly 100 years.

The dam’s removal will help revive a threatened salmon run on the river and enable the restoration of sacred tribal sites flooded decades ago.

The Elwha dam was built in 1913 in what is now the Olympic National Park. A second hydro-electric dam a few miles away - the Glines Canyon dam, built in 1927—has already been demolished as part of the biggest project of its kind in US history…

The park is home to the Klallam tribe, whose identity is strongly connected with the river and with salmon fishing. The failure to build fish ladders when the dams were originally built had decimated what was once one of the richest salmon runs outside Alaska.

Adding new ladders would have proved prohibitively expensive. And the dams also needed major upgrades because they no longer met modern environmental standards or produced energy at an efficient price.

The BBC went to see the drilling and explosions in action and to find out how the salmon will be reintroduced to the river.

(read more: U.S. Fish and wildlife Service)

(photo: Kate Benkert - USFWS)

Mystery Solved: Salmon Navigate Using Magnetic Field

by Carrie Arnold

Whoever said you can’t go home again has never met a sockeye salmon, which navigates more than 2,485 mi (4,000 km) to spawn in the same stream in which it hatched. 

Now, scientists have finally solved how the species accomplishes its navigational feat—the fish uses Earth’s magnetic field to steer itself home.

“To find their way back home across thousands of kilometers of ocean, salmon imprint on [i.e. learn and remember] the magnetic field that exists where they first enter the sea as juveniles,” study leader Nathan Putman, of Oregon State University, said in a statement.

“Upon reaching maturity, they seek the coastal location with the same magnetic field.”

Like several other species of salmon, sockeye hatch in many of the streams and tributaries of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. After hatching, they live and mature in the gravel beds of these freshwater streams for one to three years. Then, the salmon make their way from their freshwater nurseries to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, where they spend another several years feeding. Eventually the fish make their way back to the streams in which they were born to spawn and begin the cycle anew…

(read more: National Geo)            

(photos: T - Tom Quinn, Univ. of Washington; B - Todd Mintz, Your Shot)