Hot, dry weather is hard on Alaska salmon

Fish Radio
August 1, 2013                                

 Salmon stalled by hot, dry weather

Dead king salmon at Petersburg Credit:  kfsk.org

Dead king salmon at Petersburg
Credit: kfsk.org

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Hot, dry weather is hard on Alaska salmon. More after this –

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 Alaska has broken records this summer for hot days and sunny skies – and that’s proving to be tough on salmon.  Dried up rivers and streams have the fish pooling up in shallow waters offshore, waiting to head home to spawn. This month, more than 11-hundred king salmon died trying to get to a home hatchery near Petersburg.  That’s out of an expected 18-hundred king salmon return. Fish and Game biologist Doug Fleming

 I was conducting an aerial survey just to get a grip on how many fish may have been killed by the warm water, not expecting to see a large die off but some and I was shocked to see the numbers of fish that we lost at time.  

Water temperatures in the 80s and low oxygen levels did in the fish, Fleming says, also – changing tides.

 There’s other cases where its happened with other species, whether its pink salmon or others, in some of the large numbers of fish that pile into a creek and then water conditions change and then fish can basically suffocate and have large die offs .  

Kodiak’s pinks are feeling the heat. Pink salmon runs are running stronger than expected around the island, where a 17 million humpy catch is predicted.  Fish and Game’s James Jackson says a little rain would really help them out.

 The island desperately needs some rain. We’ve kind of exhausted almost all of snow pack. Some of the bigger streams obviously have water, but a lot of the small streams – especially down the east side, they run off of just rain water. The fish are there, at the mouths, waiting to go up, and there’s no streams for them to go up, they can’t do that. So we just need a few days; a good deluge would be really nice. I hate to be the guy to actually asks for rain, but it would be nice to have some around here.

 The weather is cooling off this week and clouds and rain are in the forecast for most coastal Alaska regions.  As of August 1 the statewide salmon catch was at 100 million fish. The forecast calls for closer to 180 million salmon.

 Thanks to assists from KFSK (www.kfsk.org) and KMXT (www.kmxt.org) –

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.