Yellow pink salmon dieing on the Fraser River

Yellow salmon? WTF indeed.

Must say, I have never seen a yellow salmon.

Curious to hear the reasoning from the Department of Fisheries & Oceans on this one…

From Ivan Doumenc’s blog:

Yellow salmon

Have you ever seen a bright yellow salmon before? With shock and horror, I give you one.

This photo was taken yesterday by Dr. Alexandra Morton and activist Anissa Reed on the banks of the Fraser river.

They found several such dead yellow fish yesterday during a field trip. Those salmon clearly died of jaundice. And when Alex opened one fish, she found a severely diseased liver, one which appeared to be covered with tumor-like growths.

Don’t eat that liver!


What is causing this deadly disease in so many of our salmon? Is it a virus? We don’t know. But we need to find out, right now.

Dr. Kristi Miller, the DFO researcher whose work has been recently published in the journal Science, has discovered a candidate virus which may be causing cancer and anemia in wild salmon. Yet last month, it was revealed at the Cohen Commission that she has been denied funding by DFO to test Atlantic salmon in fish farms for her virus. She was asking for $18,750 – a pittance in research terms – yet her DFO hierarchy told her that they didn’t have the money!

Why is DFO doing this? Why is it pretending that it does not have twenty thousand dollars to conduct critical tests on salmon disease? Why would it say that, when it was also revealed at the Commission that the federal government has given $145,000 to the fish farm industry to conduct “research” on how to make farmed salmon more palatable to the end consumer?

Pre-spawn death

As yellow salmon are dying on the banks of the Fraser, this DFO charade must stop. The people of this Province demand that viral tests be performed on fish farms – right now. Not next year. Not next month. Now.

WTF are those whitish growths in that salmon’s gills?!

15 thoughts on “Yellow pink salmon dieing on the Fraser River

  1. LAL

    Maybe the Salmon decided that they should be golden in seeing the price of gold… It seems to be what we value the most in this world.
    Funny, one cannot eat gold, nor can gold support a forest.

  2. priscilla judd

    After sending an e-mail to DFO about a month ago – I got a reply Yesterday – Dr Stewart Johnson e-mailed me – offering to talk about the IHN Virus – I notice that the yellow fish picture was taken yesterday too.

    It’s interesting that I spent an hour on the phone this morning with Stewart Johnston DFO who was trying to explain that the “IHNV (V for virus) is only found in Sockeye Salmon – not found in Pinks or other salmon” .

    So let’s get Mr Johnson to test these yellow fish – because it all seems mighty strange that our citizens can find yellow fish and I didn’t hear anything about yellow fish this morning from a DFO Scientist. Perhaps he doesn’t know about this – he said he had not been well for some time.

    I will try to write all the information that DFO gave me this morning on my blog and I’ll e-mail Mr.Johnson and ask him to test those yellow fish.

  3. Dave Barnes

    People, these are dying Pink salmon, with failing livers and enlarged gall bladders full of bile. It’s totally normal in a stock of salmon that will die shortly and is most often evident, to the human eye, in male pinks.
    This is a not a story; it’s old news and a competent biolgist should know that.

  4. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Dave,
    guess i’m not much of competent biologist… however, i can say with some comfort that i certainly haven’t seen yellow humpies… about to die… full of roe.
    would be curious to see any pictures you have of this ‘old news’ — must be common knowledge with lots of pics out there?

    would be curious for any competent biologist to explain the gills as well. parasite?

    Suppose folks are just a little on edge when everywhere else in the world that farmed salmon have gone where there are wild salmon stocks — the story is not a good one… for the wild salmon.

    would like some ‘competent’ biologists to explain that one as well…

  5. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the info Priscilla.
    IHN is also found in atlantic salmon… oddly enough. Hasn’t been good on the wild stocks of Atlantics where they’ve had to face the influx of domesticated.

    kind of like wild and farmed bison… wild and farmed elk… etc., etc.
    would be curious to hear what’s going on in Chile with the mass outbreak of IHN in recent years… what’s the impact on wild stocks of fish? where does it get transported and where not?

  6. Dave Barnes

    Dave L,
    I ‘m not a bio (and I was not but referring to you by the way) but I would bet a pension cheque those gill lesions are a species of bacterial Columnaris. Anglers call it gill fungus. Again, common stuff in dying salmon and more often seen in fish that have been exposed to warmer water. Horsefly sockeye are especially prone to this disease during warm water years (sadly, nearly all now)

  7. Priscilla Judd

    here is some old news: Thursday, June 24, 2010 on the Chile Scandal:

    “… salmon farms… devastating impacts on the region’s entire ecosystem – not least because Atlantic salmon is an alien species in Chile, introduces diseases and therefore poses an additional risk to already threatened native species.”

    “The ISA (infectious salmon anaemia) virus, which causes anaemia and death in salmon, has forced many aquaculture operators to close down their farms in northern Chile in recent years.”

    “The farms, however, are now spreading further south,” reports Heike Vester from the Norwegian research institute Ocean Sounds, who is currently completing her doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation and the University of Göttingen. ”

    “Measurements taken by other participants in the Göttingen researcher’s expedition prove that no forms of life now exist in direct proximity to the farms.”
    “”The diseased fish were obviously not disposed of properly and, in some cases, simply sunk in the water in plastic bags,” reports Ms Vester. Her photographs show discarded, dead and partly eaten salmon. “It would appear that this is how the virus managed to enter the ecosystem,” concludes the biologist.”

    and here:
    Infectious salmon anemia (ISA) in Chile, 2007

    “The fish showed the classical external and internal signs of ISA such as pale gills, skin petechiae and hemorrhages, anemia, ascites, congestion and enlargement of liver and spleen. Presence of hemorrhagic ascites in the abdominal cavity and pericardium was also observed. Tissue samples taken for histopathology revealed diffuse hemorrhagic necrosis in the tissues and was highly suspicious for ISAV infection”


    “Chilean authorities declared the ISA cases to the OIE and now Chile is officially recognized as positive for ISA virus causing ISA disease in Atlantic salmon. The fish health laboratories have implemented all the techniques necessaries to confirm the virus, which are available for all the Chilean salmon companies in order to detect new outbreaks at Chilean seawaters.”

    better send samples to Chile if we want our fish examined … I heard that DFO is not interested in testing the fish.

  8. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Dave,
    yes, i caught your drift (no pun intended).
    better save that pension cheque and send it to DFO’s scientific research branch…

    with the info provided by Priscilla in her comment, and info I’ve read coming out of Chile following their ISA outbreak — and other areas where fish farms have operated, i don’t think it’s too out of line for people to be significantly on edge.

    Really, i think it’s just a matter of time (if not already) until salmon farming is exposed for things akin to the ‘superbugs’ that infest some of our hospitals. If we continue to plow antibiotics and stop-gap remedies such as SLICE into ecosystems (no different then the effect of Cialis, birth control, endocrine disruptors, etc. and so on entering the ecosystem through somewhat-treated sewage), we are going to see impacts beyond our wildest dreams.

  9. Brian

    Dave L.,

    Dave Barnes may not be a biologist, but he has years of experience in this particular specialty that Morton does not. He is actually trying to help you understand. Other people with years of experience that have seen this are First Nations elders who may not have degrees, but have years of local knowledge. Is their knowledge not of any value either?

    These pinks are programmed to die. They cease feeding so there is no more nutrition coming into their bodies. This means their organs are going to gradually fail – this includes the liver. It is not going to be a pretty red colour much longer; instead, it is going to be a very pale grey-green colour. These fish are basically eating themselves out of house and home. Death for these fish is not going to be pretty, but it is part of the cycle of life. The clock and energy meter is ticking down – at this point it only goes one way…and that is down. Hormonal changes within the fish seals this fate. With only so much energy stored after they leave saltwater they will eventually turn to other sources for that additional energy. If you were to starve, what energy sources would your body turn to? Think about it.

    In addition, once the adult Pacific Salmon hit freshwater on their way to their natal spawning grounds they become more prone to freshwater parasites and fungus. These effect things like the gills and kidneys. Look up Parvicapsula minibicornis and you will find a wealth of information on it. If the salmon has any wounds or net marks during migration you may eventually see fungus growing in them as the protective skin and mucus of the fish breaks down because it is no longer getting maintained by nutrition. If you are no longer obtaining anymore nutrition how well you think you will be able to maintain that hair of yours, fight off infection or keep your organs functioning? Everything that fish has left is going two things – get home and spawn. The longer they are in freshwater the worse it can be – especially if the water temperatures are warm.

    One also has to ask how long were these pinks, that Ms. Morton were holding in the photo, dead for? Dave Barnes can correct me, but I believe it is better to sample live fish on the spawning grounds or very fresh dead. Once they become tainted or rotten it is more difficult to do analysis.

    There are individuals that conduct monitoring of environmental conditions in the Fraser as well as field and laboratory research on Pacific Salmon:
    Morton’s contention that nobody is doing anything is pure hogwash. If Ms. Morton was truly concerned then she should be in contact with these individuals, but her efforts seem to be more directed at a media campaign to create controversy and embarassment rather than furthering knowledge. You don’t try to contact people by attempting to ridicule and embarass them or their employer in a blog. If people are on “edge” it is primarily because of these fishing expeditions by Ms. Morton which only serve to scare people. She has now resorted to throwing around as many diseases as possible – hoping one will stick.

    This is not to say that people should never be concerned; however, someone with keen observation skills, an open mind and the ability to ask the right questions of those like Dave Barnes would probably do very well under these circumstances. Unfortunately, some people have purposely abandoned these basic life skills and have resorted in following the blind. It is comforting though that not everyone has abandoned these skills. While at the Adams today there were many inquisitive tourists who came with an open mind and asked questions about the salmon they were looking at. Instead of having an axe to grind like some people they were geniunely interested in why the salmon looked the way they do on the spawning grounds.

  10. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the quasi-bio lesson Brian.
    i think more folks then may give credit — understand the life cycle of salmon and how their bodies start to break down once they hit the mere scent of freshwater.
    Much of that can be passed along to the good work of programs, such as Salmon-in-the-classroom. One of those well managed, well thought out DFO programs…

    Good to see a variety of folks are leaving comments here and adding their knowledge to the conversation. biologists, non-biologists, local knowledge folks, and the like.

    I’m not sure i see the difference between mounting personal attacks and your critical comments on people engaging in dialogue on personal blogs — and people asking hard questions of bureaucratic behemoth tax-payer funded government ministries.

    Maybe DFO senior managers need to start more ‘sensitivity’ training for their staff.
    If one works for a publicly-funded ministry, then they need to be aware that folks from the public may ask hard, difficult questions. Comes with the territory… Folks may also mount all sorts of attacks, well informed and not.

    The great thing with the internet, is that these sorts of things have become all the more public, and all the more documentable (as the Cohen Commission has demonstrated). Be careful what you email, or comment on in your staff-paid time… it could be FOI’ed (Freedom of Information).

    Similarly, folks that engage in public discussions (e.g. this blog and others) can either turn the commenting function on… or off. They may choose to engage in criticism… or not. They may facilitate open dialogue or not.

    Even the legal realm has recognized this, as has parliament. The rules around libel and slander take on different meanings within the halls of parliament (for example), as they do when one puts various ‘works’ into the public realm. By doing so, one opens themselves to criticism.

    Not much difference in the world of DFO…
    If there are senior managers and the like within DFO that get their feathers ruffled, or as some suggest ‘their undergarments in a knot,’ then maybe they need to find a new line of work. Like, for example, within their own little businesses that may not be subject to FOI legislation and taxpayer-funded responsibility. (yet, of course, those consultants that make a fine living on DFO-funded contracts and per diems…). DFO folks don’t really get to choose between the folks they ‘want’ to respond to and the ones they don’t… they have a responsibility to all of the public. (what was the old Clint Eastwood movie? ‘good, bad, and the ugly’… as some might say. Folks in DFO don’t get to choose, just because they don’t like what someone said on their Facebook page…)

    thanks to both you and Dave B. and others for continuing to leave comments here.
    It may very well be that folks have little to be concerned about when yellow salmon start swimming around their watersheds… however, i think we can all agree, it’s not really that common. Just as it’s not really that common in a city such as Vancouver, of say 2 million or so, to see folks running around the supermarket looking supremely jaundiced. And if we did, we would expect that some may might start asking: “hey, what’s going on…? your skin is extraordinarily yellow, and jaundiced…”

    More so, if we had good friends that we knew were trying to have a baby and we see them one day looking as yellow as the leaves on a poplar in interior BC in these days of fall. We might start asking some questions…

    Little different when folks visit a local watershed and see yellow salmon (still full of eggs) — especially in a year that it doesn’t seem like things such as ‘warm’ water is really a problem. As such, it doesn’t really seem like a year when salmon in the Harrison or otherwise should be having significant amounts of pre-spawn mortality, even on a big pink year… there’s enough habitat to go around. (the Fraser sure as hell supported a lot more salmon than swims up its reaches these days…)

  11. Brian

    Sorry to go back to the basics with you Dave L. but apparently it seem like it was in order given the comments being made. Instead of trying to understand Dave Barnes’s initial post you went off on a rather scarsatic tirad trying to minimalize his contribution. More importantly, I find it strange that you would question his comments, but not even once question Ms. Morton regarding this. Instead we have “WTF” and “Curious to hear the reasoning from the Department of Fisheries & Oceans on this one…” It sure does sound like you appreciate comments from everyone.

    I am glad you mentioned briefly about “Salmonids in the Classroom” which is still going on today which is helping expose young children to Pacific Salmonids. I looks like you fully support this so that is appreciative. I would be nice if some of adults of today had participated.

    I can sense your bitterness, but I am not too surprised or phased by it. I forgive you. However, when you are the “Salmonguy” you should be expected to be up on salmon. Criticism goes both ways, my friend. By all means…ask the hard questions, but be prepare to answer a few also and defend those theories you support. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Priscilla Judd

    Here is an informed scientific opinion from Dr. Stewart Johnson DFO who graciously made time to phone and e-mail me about the IHN Virus testing. He did that to help me understand why the Middle Shuswap salmon were suffering from Pre-spawn mortality and to help me understand how the two might be related. Mr. Johnson was not aware of the yellow fish when he called me last Thursday. Thank you Dr.Stewart Johnson.

    From DFO
    The signs of IHN include: fish becoming lethargic, darkening of skin, pale gills, fluids within the body cavity and small areas of haemorrhage through the skin. Internal organs appear pale coloured with small areas of bleeding on their surfaces. I have not heard of any relationship between IHN and jaundice like signs, or lesions in the brain in any salmon species. As noted above lesions can form in the liver.

    Over the years DFO has received samples of different species of wild salmon that show signs of jaundice (some have been very yellow). These samples have come from many different areas of BC, from fresh and salt water and include a variety of species. I would suspect that if the liver becomes damaged that jaundice could develop. I don’t know how common it is in wild fish. Pink salmon do take on a yellowish green color at spawning, so unless the fish is markedly yellow this situation would likely go unreported.

  13. salmon guy Post author

    all one can really say Brian, is… curious interpretations and curious logic.
    Interesting to see how wise you are to know exactly what people’s intentions and tone are when it comes to reading text. Maybe there’s another government agency that would really like to utilize your clairvoyant skills.

    however thanks for the holiday wishes and forgiveness, glad to see DFO employees/contractors putting in that extra effort over the long weekend. The question of ‘what DFO has to say?’ was a genuine one and good to see you and Dave B engaging to assist in answering that question. Wouldn’t it be great if a few sr. managers within DFO would do that?

    As mentioned before, I have this wonderful little function on this blog for comments… it’s called ‘delete.’ There’s this other one called: “mark this comment as SPAM” and yet… your comments keep showing up available for public viewing… and adding to the discussion.

    i’m still awaiting a few hard questions…but thanks for the heads up. One ‘preeminent scientist’ jumped on here briefly to ‘straighten me out’ but then he must have had much more important things to tend to.
    And really curious to hear about these apparent theories i’ve been subscribing to. (Are these like subscribing to a magazine, send me the links…)… I tend to be one that subscribes more to theories like Heisenberg’s ‘uncertainty principle’… or Russell’s ‘problem with induction’… or Bohr’s theory of complementarity… so not sure which theories you’re referring to.

    thanks again.
    p.s. i love the ‘basics’… it’s kind of my point with the entire DFO bureaucracy… the ‘basics’ would do the agency wonders…

  14. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Priscilla.
    great to hear of folks that take the time within these publicly funded agencies to assist in their actual mandate.

    I’m sure there will be lots more to come on the diseases issue. The analogy i use often is the old cartoon of the fellow looking for his keys under a street light. Another person comes by and says ‘what are you doing?’

    ‘looking for my keys?’

    ‘you think you dropped them right around here?’

    ‘no i dropped them back there in that dark alley…’

    ‘they why the heck you looking around out here?’

    ‘well… this is where the light is…’

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