Pacific Salmon Face Uncertain Tides

Oceanic changes doomed '08 crop, but scientists can't agree on what caused them
By Kristina Loew,  Newser User
Posted Jan 7, 2009 6:43 PM CST
Pacific Salmon Face Uncertain Tides
Pink salmon are unloaded from the hold of a salmon seiner in Petersburg, southeast Alaska, Thursday August 7, 2008. Pink salmon are finally starting to show up in southeast Alaskan waters.   (AP Photo/Klas Stolpe)

West Coast fisheries has seen a 90% drop in salmon spawn since 2004, and while many blame rivers degraded by dams and diversions, some experts believe the problem has been pushed out to sea, reports Salon. Wind direction and water temperature have changed, bringing less food to the ocean’s surface for fish to feed on; whether climate change is to blame remains unclear.

“When the ocean is in cold phase, salmon do really well, and when it’s in warm phase, salmon do horribly,” says one expert, who says the natural process of flipping warmer water for colder has “gotten all goofy.” While some argue climate is “starting to affect lots of food webs in a lot of different ways,” fish seem to be returning this year. “The ocean is full of life,” says one fisherman. (More California stories.)

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