Saturday, August 10, is Wild Alaska Salmon Day and some snazzy, snack sized stories will enhance any event.
“I don’t think it’s an overstatement. There is no other species that is as important to Alaska as salmon. Full stop.”
Peter Westley is an assistant professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks. His students compile a Five Bites of Salmon newsletter that showcases stories and research that connect salmon to people all across Alaska.
“You can think about it as helping to slowly increase salmon literacy and build the network of salmon connected people in Alaska through something like this newsletter.”
The latest Five Bites highlights lethal impacts of Alaska’s heat wave on salmon…what raging wildfires might mean for salmon habitat. And do you know which watershed in Alaska is larger than Texas? An interactive dive into watersheds in 13 regions will tell.
Five Bites is one small offshoot of the SEEC Lab, which stands for Salmonid Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation.
Westley says their research focuses on projects that help inform policy makers and sustain connections between salmon, people and place.
“Sustainability is not just about having a high abundance of salmon in some river. It’s really about sustaining the connections to that resource on the landscape.”
Research by SEEC Lab students has revealed, for example, that larger numbers than ever known of adult coho salmon at Kodiak have a much higher dependence on Buskin Lake before they head downstream to spawn.
Another study showed for the first time that the demise of most Yukon River Chinook salmon seem to occur in the ocean and not in fresh water habitats.
Research also is ongoing on hatchery strays and invasive Northern pike.
“I and the students in my lab take very seriously the obligation to communicate the work that we are doing beyond our offices and the “ivory tower on the hill.”
The SEEC Lab also is a part of the Alaska Salmon and People project – a statewide initiative to quantify the varied states of salmon through histories, case studies and in depth data.
Sign on to the Five Bites newsletter and learn how to make Blueberry Cured Salmon Gravlax in time for Alaska Wild Salmon Day. (Recipe by Diane Wiese/Cordova)