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

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness pros leading charge on tax-deductible gym memberships

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson pitched idea to deputy prime minister

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Delta’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 206 from Feb. 21-27

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

Delta police have arrested a suspect in the theft of a custom-made wheelchair hoist stolen from a Ladner condo complex’s underground parkade on Dec. 15, 2020. (Debbie J Green/Facebook photos)
Delta police arrest suspect in theft of custom wheelchair hoist

The device was stolen Dec. 15, 2020 in Ladner and later recovered, stripped and damaged, in Surrey

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read