Salmon are known for risking their lives to breed. From the river where they were born, they wander across the ocean and return to their home river. Then, they run upstream with all their might, spawn, and die.
However, not all salmon necessarily follow this pattern throughout their lives. Some species, such as chum salmon, sometimes find rivers other than the one in which they were born to spawn. In other words, find a new habitat.
Scientists now report that there is a population of chum salmon that is spawning in the Arctic. This is nothing but a sign that climate change is accelerating.
The Arctic is warming up to four times faster than the rest of the world, and many species are moving to higher latitudes. This is because the Arctic’s climate has become more hospitable to species that used to live in lower latitudes, and their original habitats have become less hospitable.
Greening is also progressing in the Arctic. As the world warms, shrubs and new trees are starting to take hold. Native fishing communities along Alaska’s North Slope have reported ubiquitous catches of chum salmon over the past few decades, but now they’re finding even more chum salmon.
Arctic rivers become more hospitable to chum salmon
Scientists caught about 100 chum salmon in the Anaktobuk and Itkilik rivers in September.confirmed. “We found not only actively spawning individuals and individuals still alive after spawning, but also dead bodies that had finished spawning,” says Peter Westley, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. . “The fact that creatures are moving to the North and South poles is clearly consistent with the signs of climate change.”
However, scientists do not yet know whether the eggs actually grow into young fish. All we know is that they spawned in the Arctic Circle. Researchers at the University of Alaska believe that chum salmon may have wandered north at some point, rather than returning to their home rivers to spawn.
In fact, in warm years, a high proportion of salmon wander outside of their home rivers. “Salmon have an amazing quality: they’re always curious and always on the lookout for better habitat,” Westley says. “It appears that the rivers of the Arctic Circle are now starting to become more hospitable to salmon.”I think of these salmon as an “introduced species” that has been introduced over the past few years. We believe that they have succeeded, or are on the verge of success, in breeding and increasing their numbers.”
Although scientific research into the impact of the introduction of chum salmon on the ecosystem has just begun, it is possible that in the future chum salmon will interact with the fish that people living in northern regions have traditionally relied on for their livelihood. Although the chum salmon population is still small, competition with native fish for habitat and resources could occur in the future, potentially disrupting the ecosystem.