There Are Too Many Pink Salmon in the Pacific | Smart News | Smithsonian

Keeping you current

Problem solved? (Justin Marx)

There Are Too Many Pink Salmon in the Pacific

Pink salmon populations are booming, at the expense of other species

smithsonian.com

Salmon are in trouble. In California, the prized king (chinook) salmon is in short supply. In the Pacific Northwest, sockeye salmon have been showing a long-term decline (though that seems to be rebounding.) But there's one species of salmon that has the opposite problem. Pink salmon are booming in such great numbers that they're threatening the stability of the North Pacific ecosystem, says National Geographic.

Too many pink salmon, says James Owen reporting on a new study, are gorging on the food needed by seabirds, causing seabirds to lay and hatch fewer chicks, and fewer chicks to make it to adulthood. The pink salmon, he says, are even hurting other types of salmon by out competing them for food.

It's "an uncommon case of too many fish in the sea," says the report. The study, led by Alan Springer of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, found that salmon eating the food of seabirds appears to be cutting the birds' numbers.

"Very little is known about how open ocean ecosystems work, and the apparent effect on them by salmon, wild and hatchery produced, really must be considered," Springer said by email.

 

Tags
About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus