the theories continue…

A Globe and Mail article today by Mark Hume:

Is B.C.’s sockeye boom a one-off?

More mention of the new latest and greatest theory on why this year’s Fraser sockeye run is so fantastic — a volcano.

It’s a curious one, but who really knows…

One of the questions I have is whether this theory that ash from the volcano settling on the North Pacific created a phytoplankton bloom and thus a sockeye boom — is whether other critters all the way up and down the food chain experienced the same sort of boom?

It also seems that this volcano theory leaves out other pieces of the puzzle. For example, if it’s just that simple — e.g. fertilize the North Pacific — I can only imagine what some folks are thinking now…  but what about the issues of juveniles in freshwater, out-migration, etc.

Are we suggesting with this volcano theory that everything must be fine in the early life cycle stages — and that all the issues are simply at sea?

I’m not quite buying it yet — however, I also haven’t read the research reports yet — so will reserve full opinion.

Any thoughts out there?

2 thoughts on “the theories continue…

  1. Brian

    It’s interesting, but like you I will reserve further comment until I see the reseach report. It’s great…don’t get me wrong…but like all theories it needs a little more work (it is only one volcanic eruption). Unfortunately, the next volcanic eruption could be sometime from now. Kind of a hard thing to recreate in the lab…lol. However, I am open to the possibilities that this theory may provide – I am not going to outright ignore it. It’s all good.

    Lake fertilization has been going on for 3 decades I think. I remember attending John Stockner’s talks on the subject back in university. I know of one particular place where this is being thought of as a really good thing, but in large part it must be kind of hard to determine how well this is really doing if you only do limited juvenile assessment. That’s the frustrating part of it. Personally, I would like to see more done on this end (i.e. knowing what is coming out in terms of juveniles) and the first couple of months of ocean life. I definitely don’t think everything is fine in the freshwater environment, but we need to start filling the holes in our knowledge of marine survival. Hopefully, this commission is the start of something good.

  2. R

    I thought that I would throw my theory out with a bit of fisheries background after hearing so many theories.

    After hearing about this years great sockeye run, the first thing that came to my mind and others that I associate with, is that the 4 year olds (bulk of the run) in 2009 stayed out in the feeding grounds because they had not reach the size to sexually mature due to poor ocean conditions. These 4 year olds (bulk of the 2009 run) would have joined the 2010 sockeye and benifited from great ocean conditions resulting in high survial rates. A combination of great 2010 survival rates with the bulk of the 2009 run (now returning as 5 yr olds) joining them would explain the low 2009 returns and extremely large 2010 return.

    If your river sockeye fisher-person and went out on the river this year, you would probably say the same thing as myself and many others said this year: “There was many more large (8lb-12lb) sockeye this year” by percentage of catch.

    I am wondering if this theory is being examined by the Cohen commission or fisheries scientists.

    I am never surprised anymore to hear that salmon change their behavior to survive. That beeing said, it would not surprise me to see a change in the normal dominate, sub-dominate and poor return years depending on ocean conditions. The question “Are we going to see the same extremely large runs in the future”. I would say yes if we have another high out-migration into poor ocean conditions followed by the next year being great ocean conditions. However, if we see 3 or 4 years of poor ocean conditions in a row, the answer would be no.

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