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Marine Salmon Interactions Program

Hatchery-wild Juvenile Chum Salmon Interactions in Taku Inlet

In spring 2004, scientists from the Auke Bay Laboratory’s (ABL) Marine Salmon Interactions program, in cooperation with the University of Alaska, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), and the Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) hatchery, began a collaborative project investigating ecological interactions of hatchery and wild juvenile chum salmon in Taku Inlet near Juneau. The research is funded by the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund to address the recent decline of wild chum salmon in the Taku River. This decline coincided with increased enhancement of hatchery stocks of chum salmon in waters adjacent to Taku Inlet.

The DIPAC hatchery releases juvenile chum salmon at several locations near Taku Inlet. All of these hatchery-released fish are marked with thermally-induced patterns on their otoliths. Scientists sample juvenile salmon from marine environments and examine the salmon for otolith marks to determine spatial and temporal overlap in hatchery and wild chum salmon stocks during initial marine residency. Subsamples from the hatchery and wild salmon samples are then analyzed for diet content and energetic conditions, providing information used to evaluate competition between the two stock groups.

Project scientists sampled juvenile salmon twice weekly from mid-April until late June using a beach seine in littoral areas and a two-boat “Kodiak” trawl in nearshore waters adjacent to the littoral sites. Waters farther offshore were sampled for juvenile salmon using a larger surface trawl; ADF&G scientists sampled for potential predators of juvenile salmon using small-meshed gill nets. This is the first year of a 2-year field program. Field collections will be repeated in 2005.

By Molly Sturdevant and Alex Wertheimer

Hatchery Review Group Visits Alaska

The Hatchery Scientific Review Group, made up of independent scientists, visited Juneau and Anchorage in May 2004 to report on a 3-year study funded by the U.S. Congress to review the status, purpose, and functions of salmon hatcheries in Puget Sound and western Washington State. The study also explores options for upgrading, improving, and possibly closing some hatcheries in Washington. While in Alaska, the group heard presentations on the background, development, and status of Alaska salmon hatcheries, and on current hatchery and wild stock research by AFSC scientists.

The Hatchery Scientific Review Group visited the ABL on 24 May. ABL scientists Joe Orsi and Jamal Moss presented reviews on marine research on juvenile salmon from hatchery and wild origins in Southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska. On 25 May, the group met with an invited audience in Juneau for additional reviews of salmon hatchery programs in Washington and Alaska. Scientists Alex Wertheimer, Bill Heard, and Frank Thrower of ABL gave respective presentations titled, “The Status of Stocks in Southeast Alaska”, “Can Wild and Hatchery Salmon Successfully Coexist? Consider the Alaska Model”, and “An Overview of Steelhead Research at Little Port Walter”.

By Bill Heard

Small Boat Safety Training

Nine staff from ABL attended a small boat safety training class in June 2004. The class, titled “Alaska Water Wise—A Course for Alaskan Boaters” was conducted by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. The training included 2 days of classroom instruction and 1 day of on-the-water (or in-the-water) instruction. Despite the fact that several ABL staff have operated small boats for many years, the class demonstrated that you can still “teach an old dog new tricks.”

The instructor had numerous props and videos that illustrated key points about safety and survival. Several of the videos were of actual boating accidents as they were happening. Class participants discussed what could have been done differently, either to avoid the accident or to enhance chances of survival.

The class was as much a marine survival course as it was about small boats. The instructor used acronyms such as, “Smarter Than Tools You Are Using” (STTYAU) and, “Ration Your Sweat Not Your Water” (RYSNYW) to illustrate critical survival issues. The class also was introduced to the “Survival Rules of Three,” which asks, “What must you have to survive or you will die within 3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months?”

By Bill Heard


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