July 27, 2015
This is Fish Radio I’m Stephanie Mangini. Warm water worries. I’ll tell you more after this…
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Dead whales around Kodiak, Skip Jack Tuna at Copper River, Market Squid in Southeast, along with a growing algae bloom. With the supposed rumors of sea turtles and sea horses, it’s safe to say Alaska is having a heat wave in its waters, which is raising questions all over the state.  Joe Orsi a NOAA fisheries biologist at the Auke Bay lab in Juneau shares his findings from the field.
“The water temperatures are still anomalously warm; around one or two degrees Celsius higher than normal off southeast Alaska.   We haven’t really seen a year this warm since up until strong El Niño years like in 2005.”
A rise in temperature brings with it a lot of unusual visitors into Alaska’s waters.
“We caught a large ocean sun fish between 800 and 1,000 pounds, and we also had some market squid that we caught that are far north of their typical range.”
These particular species don’t seem to be harmful to our water’s ecosystem but it does cause other concern.
“I think what is most concerning is what else has followed those species up that could be potential predators of salmon that might have a negative impact; for example Humboldt squid or blue sharks. Things like that that might be in the mix of the species that are moving northward.”    
So what does this mean for our salmon?
“I guess my major concern would be on what effect the ocean will have on the juveniles that we are studying that are moving out into the ocean right now. Are they having to interact with all these predators and competitors that may affect their survival in the future? So this first ocean year is really critical, so if there is very Poor Ocean conditions that they are not able to cope with, will it affect those fish as they return the following year or the year after.”
Orsi says that the Gulf hits its peak temperature in September. He adds that as of now it is only warm on the surface, so salmon can dodge the warmer water by going deeper.
“If it’s a little bit warm the salmon can adjust to it, but if it’s really warm they have trouble keeping up with their metabolic demands and eating enough to grow in the warm temperature. And of course as time goes on here it’s going to warm up even more, so in the next couple month we will have to keep an eye on it to see how warm it does get.”
Researchers will continue to monitor the water and other weird or new species that may show up. As for the alga that’s a whole other story Fish Radio will be featuring soon.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web atwww.oceanbeauty.com. In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini