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

Ucluelet locals Rachael, Caroline and Tom enjoy refreshments on a sunny Monday afternoon at a picnic table dining area set up by the District of Ucluelet to help residents and visitors support local businesses while staying outside. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Ucluelet chamber launches bingo contest to support local restaurants

Four Ucluelet Co-op shopping sprees are up for grabs in #Ukee2go competition.

The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Virtual public hearing held for the Lodge Property in Ucluelet

Mayor and council to make a final decision during the April 14 regular council meeting

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest as reservations open

Green Point Campground is scheduled to open from May 1 – Oct. 12 this year.

Kale is a classic in West Coast gardens.
COLUMN: Kale reigns supreme in West Coast gardens

In Tofino and Ucluelet, kale is a classic.

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read