Elders are finding this unusual for this late in the season.
Observation: Our rivers in Nanwalek is still loaded with pink salmon and we talked to elders who are finding this unusual for this late in the season to have them still here. They still have eggs that are clustered and are spawning in a saltwater river.
LEO Says: This observation was shared with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), Division of Commercial Fisheries.
ADF&G Consult: Glenn Hollowell, Biologist writes, "This year is the return year for the very large return that we had in 2015. In that year ADF&G estimated approximately 7,500 pink salmon in the English Bay River. I sampled the English Bay River for pink salmon otoliths on Wednesday and can confirm that there are a lot of fish there. I was in Tutka Lagoon last Friday (9/15), and in Little Tutka Bay on Monday, (9/18) sampling otoliths from returning pink and sockeye salmon. There is a hatchery in Tutka Lagoon that has been there producing pink salmon since 1978. Both of these locations have numbers of pink salmon that might be expected from the very large pink salmon return in 2015. In addition, as you might recall, the winter of 2015-2016 was quite warm with the Homer Airport reporting 110 days from October 1 through May 15 where the temperature did not fall below freezing. The historic average is only 29 days of above freezing temperatures for this span of time at the airport. This may have allowed some of the pink salmon eggs that were deposited in areas that are prone in normal winters to freeze-out or dewatering to survive in a warm rainy winter. Similar reports of pink salmon returning to marginal habitat areas have been reported in other parts of Kachemak Bay, (Beluga Slough, Fritz Creek, Diamond Creek, etc) as well as other places around Alaska this fall. If we continue to get monsoons rather than winters this trend of increasing pink salmon productivity may continue. Thanks for your observations." -- Glenn Hollowell, Area Management Biologist, Division of Commercial Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Alaska Department of Fish & Game – "Pink salmon have the shortest lifespan of all the Pacific salmon found in North America. They mature and complete their entire life cycle in two years. This predictable two-year life cycle has created genetically distinct odd-year and even-year populations of pink salmon."
- Wildlife Notebook Series - The pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) also known as the “humpy” because of its very pronounced, laterally flattened hump which develops on the backs of adult males before spawning.
Olympic National Park Washington – The Salmon Life Cycle, "The anadromous life history strategy of salmon plays a key role in bringing nutrients from the ocean back into rivers and the wildlife community. Though it varies among the five species of Pacific salmon, in its simplest form, it is hatch, migrate, spawn, die." Source: NPS February 2015.