UBC researchers are using the isotopes in sokeye salmon scales to trace their migratory behaviour in the North Pacific, which may help fisheries managers better understand the unique challenges faced by specific stocks. (Black Press file)

UBC researchers are using the isotopes in sokeye salmon scales to trace their migratory behaviour in the North Pacific, which may help fisheries managers better understand the unique challenges faced by specific stocks. (Black Press file)

B.C. researchers identify new tool to trace salmon at sea

UBC study could help fisheries managers pair specific stocks to unique climatic challenges

Researchers have identified a promising new method of tracing the migratory behavior of salmon at sea, greatly improving the odds of identifying the unique climatic challenges of individual stocks and leading to better management decisions.

At the heart of the research are sockeye salmon scales that fisheries management groups have been collecting for more than a century. In a study published in Ecology and Evolution, scientists at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) used the stable isotopes preserved in hundreds of scales to successfully locate where the salmon are spending their time in the North Pacific.

“What surprised us is that we were able to trace the different stocks, especially where they forage,” Evgeny Pakhomov, professor and director of the IOF and one of the study’s co-investigators said. “We know that fish are going into the open ocean, and our perception and vision into this is that when salmon go into the open ocean they mix together. What this paper is telling us is that it looks like different stocks of salmon are feeding in different places.”

READ MORE: Retired DFO scientist plans wild salmon research expedition in Gulf of Alaska

Knowing where different salmon stocks travel to forage will be essential for identifying the unique environmental threats they will face as oceans become more inhospitable due to climate change and other cumulative impacts on ocean habitats.

“What’s cool about this is it enables us to start partitioning out the distribution of these stocks,” Hunt said. “We can start looking at variability in environments experienced by different stocks, and that can take us one step further to knowing the effects of the open-ocean part of their life history on their survival and growth… This is a great first step in thinking about regional effects on fish.”

The findings are notable because researchers have long grappled with the question of where salmon go after they leave their natal waters, reads the conclusion of the study. “Isotopes show promise of providing a cheaper and faster method over current labour-intensive practices of sampling fish at sea or tracking them with tags.”

READ MORE: Gitanyow study using salmon DNA to count annual runs



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read