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Salmon Species Returns To Salmon River For The First Time In A Century

An Atlantic salmon, photographed in a zoo in Norway. Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld <a href=

An Atlantic salmon, photographed in a zoo in Norway. Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld (CC-BY-SA)

Atlantic salmon are back in the Salmon River.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that Atlantic salmon have been found in the river for the first time in more than 100 years.

The salmon were all less than a year old and about 2 inches long. Scientists found 41 Atlantic salmon.

“This discovery suggests that, after many years of reproductive failure, restoration is starting to work for this species,” said Jim Johnson, Station Chief for the U.S. Geological Survey Tunison Lab of Aquatic Science in Cortland, in a news release. “This finding should provide real excitement and impetus for biologists and sport groups interested in bringing this species back to the area.”

Lake Ontario once held the largest concentration of freshwater Atlantic salmon in the world. Overfishing, deforestation, pollution and damming of tributaries all but killed off the fish by the late 1800’s. The fish survived in the rivers of New England for decades longer, but when a fish called the alewife was accidentally introduced to the region’s waters, the Atlantic salmon died off.

When salmon eat alewives, a chemical in the alewife weakens and kills newly hatched salmon.

Lately, however, alewife populations are shrinking as other predators gobble them up. That’s good news for the Atlantic salmon.

The state has been stocking 30,000 Atlantic salmon a year in the Salmon River.

“This provides some hope that we can get natural reproduction of Atlantic salmon despite the thiaminase issue,” said Dan Bishop, fishery manager for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 7 Fisheries Unit. “Our thinking was that the reproductive impairment would be very difficult to overcome.”

A strong return of Atlantic salmon would also give a boost to a region that bases much of its economy on fishing-related tourism.

LINKS:

Wild Atlantic Salmon Found in New York’s Salmon River (USGS)

The Atlantic Salmon Federation

More pictures of Atlantic salmon (USGS)

The Salmon of New York (DEC)

VIDEO:

Atlantic salmon exist in many parts of the world. Here’s a BBC video showing some big Atlantic salmon fighting a strong current and jumping high out of the water to get over a waterfall:

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