Thursday, August 25, 2005

Surprise red run on the Kenai River

"An unexpected, mid-August flood of sockeye salmon into the Kenai River has state fisheries biologists scratching their heads and extending the sockeye season on the watershed's most popular tributary." This from an article in the Anchorage Daily News.

The extra 250,000 sockeye that showed up unexpectedly isn't causing any complaining, but it has biologists scratching their heads, supposedly. Well, like I said in a past post, the sockeye runs north of Southeast Alaska seem to be in good shape. Of course the runs that disappeared in Southeast, Canada and Washington didn't go off course and end up in the wrong river.

But this bears watching in the next few years for evidence of a pattern. Global warming phenomenon? Maybe someone should develop sensors that could be deployed from a long range airplane to sample the plankton all over the North Pacific. Then when the smolts go out to sea the food values could be correlated eventually to predict runs a little better.

Right now, the best the biologists can say is, "we don't know where they go." That seems a little lame to me considering all the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been thrown at these guys in Alaska and the West Coast.

There may not be anything a farmer do or say about future weather, but the ocean conditions when smolt go to sea is a different matter. It is measurable. Just like when someone measured the lack of phytoplankton in the Bering sea and noticed that it was replaced by large quantities of diatoms. Diatoms are the critters that sockeye smolt feed on in the ocean when they come out of the streams and have glass-like shells. Not the juicy morsels they are used to.

I guess it's all in how bad the industry wants this knowledge. I think when fishermen start leveraging their production more, to finance vertical integration, they will want to keep their bankers happy with predictions of consistent production. Maybe only the sockeye fishermen north of Icy Straits will be able to do that.

Bonus Material:

Quote of the day: "The good thing about Little League Baseball is that it keeps the parents off the streets." Yogi Berra.

Is there a surprise run of pinks showing up in Southeast Alaska?

I looked up my rental house in Oregon on Google Earth, zoomed in, and could see the swing in the back yard. I figure the picture was taken last summer, because I didn't put up the swing with the awning this year. The satellite photo of the Wrangell, Alaska area had fog in the channels. Maybe the Google people who selected the picture thought it was glacier. But it's hard to get a satellite photo of southern Southeast Alaska without some clouds or fog.


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