UNALAKLEET—Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation’s (NSEDC) fisheries biologists received reports of unusually large numbers of dead pre-spawned pink salmon in multiple river systems in the Norton Sound region over the weekend. Multiple organizations and individuals have provided information and data to NSEDC and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).
NSEDC’s Fisheries, Research and Development Director Wes Jones received reports of above normal pink salmon die offs in many Norton Sound river systems, with larger die offs in eastern Norton Sound streams.
“Based on current water temperature, salmon escapement numbers and water levels it appears that much higher than normal water temperatures are the main contributing factor to the pink salmon die offs,” Wes said. “We’re working with multiple organizations to collect water temperature data and dissolved oxygen measurements. This additional information will help confirm this conclusion and rule out other possibilities.” The event does not appear to be connected to disease, but rather abnormal environmental conditions.
Other areas of western Alaska, outside of the Norton Sound, have also recorded above normal salmon die off events that are attributed to high water temperatures.
NSEDC fisheries biologists express appreciation to all individuals and organizations who made reports of abnormal events in their river systems. “Oftentimes the first reports of an unusual event come directly from residents in our member communities which is helpful in verifying the event and determining a possible cause,” Wes said.
The pink salmon die offs are another example of what’s thought to be a larger ecosystem-level shift brought on by warming waters. Significant northward migration of stocks such as pollock and Pacific cod as well as marine mammal and seabird die off events are likely other notable impacts being brought on by warming waters in the Bering Sea.
For more information about the pink salmon die offs in the Norton Sound, contact NSFR&D Director Wes Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 624-3190.
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