Thousands of dead sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) found dead along the beach during a period of warm weather. Additional salmon have been observed in the Togiak River, raising concerns about possible challenges to subsistence harvest.
During between 3rd to 4th week of July, salmon run in the community of Twin Hills began seeing dead red salmon by the thousands. The record temperature may have contributed to many deaths of salmon. I also heard locals from Togiak have seen record number of dead salmon in Togiak River. The water level have also created challenges to travelers along Togiak River and will be much harder to subsist this fall. Climate change is creating obstacles (hunt and subsist) and changing the food we subsist.
Comments from LEO Editors:
Thank you Diane for this important observation. LEO has received several observations this summer about salmon mortalities across Alaska, possibly related to warm water temperatures from the recent high temperatures across the state. LEO Network is providing support to the statewide effort to understand this event by mapping observations that come into our system and sharing the updates with health and resource agencies. See recent articles about the salmon die-offs in the Norton Sound and Yukon Kuskokwim areas.
This observation has been forwarded to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Environmental Department at the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, and to the Natural Resources Department at the Bristol Bay Native Association.
Tim Sands, Fisheries Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, comments:
We have seen salmon deaths during July in the Nushagak River area, particularly in the Igushik River. The Igushik river flows more slowly, and is prone to solar heating. The water was too warm for fish to migrate. The warm water holds less oxygen, which leads to death. More information on this, and other salmon deaths, can be found in an article, "Warm waters across Alaska cause salmon die-offs" published by the Juneau Empire. Shared with Erica Lujan over the phone