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UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS | ALASKA CENTER for CLIMATE ASSESSMENT & POLICY

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Alaska has long had thriving commercial and recreational salmon fisheries. A changing climate may be altering these fisheries in new ways.

Researchers have found that sockeye salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region are skipping an entire year in freshwater because climate change has produced more favorable conditions in lakes and streams, which allow the young fish to grow much faster.

Previously, these fish would spend up to two years in their birth lakes before heading to the ocean, where they feed and reach maturity two to three years later. Now they are more likely to head out to sea after only one year.

This “jumpstart” in freshwater doesn’t necessarily benefit salmon in the long run. The same fish are now spending an extra year in the ocean, taking longer to grow and mature.

Source: University of Washington

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