Twelve scientists from Canada, Russia and U.S. are embarking on a salmon ecology research expedition. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

International salmon research expedition sets sail for Alaska from Victoria

Salmon survival and marine ecology focus of 25-day Gulf of Alaska cruise

Victoria hosted a send-off celebration for an international collaboration of scientists embarking on a 25-day research expedition into northern salmon ecology on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, 12 scientists from Canada, Russia and the U.S. gathered aboard the Pacific Legacy No. 1, the Canadian charter vessel they’ll call home for nearly a month while they analyze the tissue, muscle and stomach content of hundreds of fish and other species in the Gulf of Alaska, where Pacific salmon from Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia and the U.S. are thought to mingle.

READ ALSO: Salmon counts may indicate future fishing closures

Researchers will also analyze ocean conditions and depths at which the fish swim, as well as the food they eat. Ultimately the marine experts hope to come back with a better picture of salmon ecosystems and just how rapidly changing ocean conditions are impacting them.

Richard Beamish, B.C. scientist for the Pacific Biological Station, said discoveries made on the expedition will change how Pacific salmon are managed.

Richard Beamish, B.C. scientist for the Pacific Biological Station, said an upcoming salmon ecology expedition is crucial in understanding and protecting the species. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“It’s doing something that has never been done before and providing information that eventually will allow us to understand the mechanisms that regulate salmon abundance and will allow everybody to be professional stewards,” Beamish said.

The expedition follows a similar study in 2019, when researchers found depleted salmon stocks and specimens in unexpected regions – like sockeye salmon in the Central Pacific and coho far off shore.

On the upcoming trip the researchers will learn more about what those findings might mean. They’ll also test a hypothesis about the strength of juvenile salmon, which Beamish said may have a stronger survival rate during their first ocean year if they grow faster and quicker in their first months of life.

READ ALSO: B.C. VIEWS: Finding hope for B.C.’s salmon

Researcher Chrys Neville, who was aboard for the 2019 Gulf of Alaska expedition, says the scientists who will be aboard the Pacific Legacy for the 2020 cruise have a set protocol for processing fish and other species as they are collected. This year Neville will assist the expedition from land. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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