salmonids

2

A ways back we introduced the Boss Salmonids that will make their appearance in Salmon Run. It turns out that these big baddies are the ones holding the Golden Eggs, and they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. We’re still waiting on additional details, but you can tell just by looking at them–these guys are mean!

There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.
—  Jerry Waxman
There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.
—  Jerry Waxman, a distinguished and enormously popular professor of astronomy and environmental science. From his book, Astronomical Tidbits.

WIDESPREAD DEAFNESS IN FARMED SALMON: HALF OF THEM HAVE HEARING LOSS DUE TO DEFORMED EAR BONES

The rapid growth of aquaculture raises questions about the welfare status of mass-produced species. Salmon have otoliths (ear bones) made from aragonite, a crystal form of calcium carbonate. These are the main hearing structures in the inner ear. However, individuals can possess a deformity in which the aragonite structure is replaced with another crystal form of calcium carbonate, vaterite.

Australian researchers studied this otolith defect in wild and farmed Atlantic salmon in Norway, as well as farmed fish from Australia, Scotland, Canada and Chile. Farmed fish were 10x more likely to have the otolith deformity than wild fish. Further, average levels of vaterite replacement have a major physiological effect on individuals: a 28–50% loss in hearing sensitivity.

The underlying causes of vaterite formation remain unknown, but the prevalence of hearing impairment in farmed fish has important implications for animal welfare, the survival of escapees and their effects on wild populations, and the efficacy of restocking programs based on captive-bred fish.

reuters.com
Thousands of salmon die in hotter-than-usual Northwest rivers
Unseasonably hot water has killed nearly half of the sockeye salmon migrating up the Columbia River through Oregon and Washington state, a wildlife official said on Monday.

Only 272,000 out of the more than 507,000 sockeye salmon that have swum between two dams along a stretch of the lower Columbia River have survived the journey, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries manager John North.

“We’ve never had mortalities at this scale,” said North… 

There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens…The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.
—  Jerry Waxman
There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.
—  Jerry Waxman
Resilience to Extremes - Can Salmon Survive the Hot Water?

The Pleistocene Epoch was long. Well, in the grand scheme of things, I suppose two and a half million years is rather short.

What you can say about the Pleistocene is it was cold. It is commonly referred to as the “Ice Age”, but in a sense, this term can be misleading. It is only the most recent of several ice ages, and the Earth was not actually a consistent snowball for the entirety of the Pleistocene. Instead the period was marked by what scientists think could be as many as twenty different glaciation cycles, where glaciers crept from both poles toward the equator, then retreated, over and over again.

If there’s anything that is more difficult than extreme conditions for (most) living organisms, it’s changes to the stability of those extremes.

Enter the Pacific Northwest, about one million years ago. By then, the five recognizable Pacific salmon species we know of today (sockeye, Coho, Chinook, pink, and chum), had diverged from their common ancestor, in addition to further differentiating from their closest relative, the Asian masu salmon. Repeatedly, the ice cap reached far south into British Columbia, encroaching on much of the salmon’s habitat in the coastal rivers and streams.

A question that’s up for debate regarding the history of these fish is this: how did salmon survive such severe swings in their environment as the glaciers came and went?

In his book King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon, author and professor of earth sciences David R. Montgomery cites two different theories for the salmon’s resiliency. He states that the prevailing notion is that the salmon survived in ice-free areas in the Columbia River Basin, as well as in California and other areas in Oregon. 

But today, the fact is salmon do in fact inhabit waters at the feet of calving glaciers in Alaska where the water can approach freezing temperatures. This has led some to suggest that salmon could have possibly survived farther north than previously thought. Due to the drastic increase in the size of the polar caps, sea level dropped by hundreds of feet, exposing more of North America’s continental shelf. Scientists argue that newer rivers that flowed across that expanse could have also provided a sanctuary. 

The importance of studying salmon’s past is becoming ever more applicable in today’s world, but in this case, the opposite extreme is the threat. Earth is undoubtedly warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2014 was the hottest year globally on record, and as far as 2015 goes, it appears the bar will be raised yet again.

 We know salmon were able to survive the freeze, but what will happen if their water begins to boil? Hyperbole aside, it still begs the question, how will the fish survive as river and ocean temperatures rise?

 Not very well it seems. Already, we are seeing major die offs in the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest. In July 2015, the return of 500,000 sockeye salmon to Columbia River was marred by the deaths of about half that number, a quarter of a million salmon. They died because the water was too hot.

If you’re an avid skier you might know the reason. For the second year in a row, snowpack was abysmally lower than the norm in the Cascade Range. Thus, when the summer months rolled around and the fish began their trip back up the Columbia, there wasn’t any snowmelt runoff left to cool the river.

The fish mortality event wasn’t an isolated occurrence during Oregon’s summer either. Scientists reported the death of over one hundred spring Chinook in the Middle Fork of the John Day River, where the water reached seventy degree, swimming-pool-like temperatures.

 Is the resilience of the salmonid species finally reaching a breaking point? Or will they simply adapt as they have for millions of years and search for more ideal water, perhaps farther north. Matt Piche, the natural resources coordinator for the Native Village of Eyak in Cordova, Alaska says, “As waters warm, we’re starting to see Chinook salmon in areas we’ve never seen before, they’re starting to migrate north.” 

This could only be a temporary fix though; Alaska isn’t impervious to warming temperatures either. The Pleistocene was long and cold, but the Holocene epoch we find ourselves living is quickly becoming hot. Let’s hope the salmon can keep up.

Ben McBee     11.06.2015

There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean.

There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths.

But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars.

This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up…