After beginning their lives in rivers and freshwater streams, young Pacific salmon answer biology’s call and migrate to the open ocean – but much of what happens during their time at sea remains a mystery.
We know the smolts feed on plankton and invertebrates to grow into the adult salmon you recognize from ocean docks and your local seafood counter. But we don’t know the whole story. For example, why do sockeye stocks swell every four years? How do salmon find feeding habitats thousands of miles from their freshwater hatching grounds? And what exactly triggers their return home?Continue Reading
When salmon began dying in the Salish Sea – the coastal waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca – North American scientists teamed up to find answers. The rich Salish Sea ecosystem supports approximately 3,000 marine species and all seven species of Pacific salmon, but the waters are getting warmer and more acidic, while marine plant and animal populations are shifting. A large-scale study of the Salish Sea ecosystem and the complex factors affecting young salmon is now underway. The Marine Survival Project is helping us to learn more about salmon in salt water and seeking effective ways to support this cornerstone species.
Here’s what else we know: salmon thrive in cold ocean waters – and sockeye take on that familiar reddish-orange colour from feasting on krill. Salmon eat a lot at sea and will typically gain about half of their full adult mass during their last six months in salt water. When it’s time to migrate home, salmon stop eating before they enter the river. Fuelled entirely by stored energy (primarily fat), they swim thousands of miles upstream, dodging predators and various dangers in an astonishing journey to their spawning grounds. They reproduce, perish and replenish the environment with essential nutrients – and the cycle continues.
Sew a salmon habitat
Nikki Wright inspires people to “sew” grass – eelgrass to be precise – lots of it and into the ocean floor. The marine vegetation is native to the west coast, and a lifesaver for young salmon. After they spend a year or two in freshwater, the salmon head out for the ocean where they are vulnerable to sharp-eyed eagles and other predators. The long eelgrass that grows close to the shoreline provides essential protection for the salmon and a food source of minnows and small insects.Read Story
Ocean Hazard Under Microscope
A salmon’s diet changes as it grows. Juvenile salmon go for zooplankton among other freshwater food sources; adult salmon in the ocean feed on krill and small fish. But the dense collections of plants that form the very base of the marine food web – algal blooms – pose a threat.Read Story
We gratefully acknowledge that UNINTERRUPTED was filmed on the unceded traditional territories of the:
Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish)
Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band, Secwepemc Nation
Experience it in VR