Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stealth Restoration Success? Extinct Sockeye Salmon Mysteriously Return to River

Can extinct salmon runs be restored?

According to this article about the mysterious return of extinct Sockeye Salmon to a BC river, it sure looks like it...

Stories like this bring an inspired smile to my face!

The return of salmon is not just a huge coup for these intriguing fish, which provide key nutrients to streams and adjacent forest ecosystems. As reported in the August, 2006 issue of Scientific American:

This influx of energy from the ocean can have an extraordinary effect on freshwater systems because the nutrient composition of the fish and their densities are so great. For example, an adult male chum salmon on the spawning grounds contains an average of 130 grams of nitrogen, 20 grams of phosphorus and more than 20,000 kilojoules of energy in the form of protein and fat. Multiplying the average nutrient composition of salmon by the total number of returning fish, we found that a 250-meter reach of stream in southeastern Alaska received more than 80 kilograms of nitrogen and 11 kilograms of phosphorus in the form of chum salmon tissue in just over a month.

Of course, the return of salmon is also a potential boon to local communities for the economic opportunities salmon bring (jobs in fishing, tourism...)

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