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The Secret Lives of Pacific Salmon

with Dr. Richard Beamish, Pacific Biological Station


Original premiere date: 18 January 2019

For more than 100 years, scientists in BC have been researching salmon.

The data banks are filled with information about spawning, spawning grounds and the forces that affect the environment where salmon return after their journey out to sea.

Researchers know the impact of freshwater and near shore factors on survival rates of smolts that are setting out on the journey into the Pacific Ocean. Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the food base when in abundance, allowing salmon smolts to fatten up and mature in advance of the long voyage ahead.

Then there are the predators – seals, sea lions, orcas and blue herons, to name but a few – that rely on salmon as the staple of their diet. Add in algae blooms and it’s a wonder any salmon survive.

What scientists now know is that of the millions of eggs that are fertilized, the survival rate has dropped from four on average percent 100 years ago to one percent today.

What those same scientists still don’t know is what are the factors that ensure or compromise the salmon’s survivability during their first winter at sea. That’s about to change. 19 scientists from five Pacific Rim countries are heading into the Gulf of Alaska to start work on a project that may finally shed light on the factors that support or hinder the lives of salmon.

We invited marine scientist Dr Richard Beamish to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the next step forward in understanding where our beloved salmon go and what we can do to help ensure their survival.

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