Salmon Coast has been participating in a larger coastal initiative to understand the behaviour, movement and health of overwintering Chinook salmon.

Investigating Critical Times for Salmon Survival

Chinook are a keystone species on the BC coast–they are socially, culturally, and economically important to humans and make up a core part of the diet of many other marine and coast species, including orca and seals.

Although the first winter that salmon spend in the ocean is thought to play a critical role in their overall survival, surprisingly little is known about this period. Salmon Coast is teaming up with a research group at the Pacific Salmon Foundation through their Bottlenecks to Survival Program to contribute to a larger dataset related to the health and survival of juvenile Chinook salmon during the winter months.

Given the lack of research during this important period for survival, there are a number of questions that the team is aiming to answer, including when and where Chinook salmon migrate. Salmon Coast is providing a critical link in the puzzle, as many of the other researchers working on this project are based in the Salish Sea and west coast of Vancouver Island.

Understanding the location and behavior of these salmon during the winter months is valuable to conservation efforts and management decisions.

During the last three years we have used microtrolling fishing techniques to target juvenile Chinook salmon in our area. The microtrolling technique has a low incidence of bycatch and low impact on the captured fish, which are returned to the waters in which they were caught. During sample collection, small tissue samples are collected and sent to the lab to provide information on the river system of origin as well as genomic indicators of health.

Results from the first year of collection found that the majority of fish caught were from the Salish Sea. Understanding these movements is a key component of understanding how to best support salmon population resilience.

Find out more about our work by checking out our regular reports and related publications

Check out our sea lice reports for each year, which provide detailed information on the year’s monitoring findings.

View our complete list of publications for many more articles based on sea lice research conducted at Salmon Coast.

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