The Beacon

An Ich-y Situation for Alaskan Salmon

A few weeks ago I wrote about how this year's commercial Chinook salmon season was canceled in California and most of Oregon due to a collapse in population. Now, as LA Times reporter Ken Weiss reports, the salmon's Alaskan brethren are in trouble, this time from a parasite lovingly referred to as "Ich."

An increasing number of Alaska's Chinook salmon have Ich, or white spot disease, which starts out as white pimples on the hearts of the salmon, then spreads to the flesh, making them stink of rotting fruit. Ick.

The disease has been around for decades, but it's appearance of late is correlated with global warming. As Weiss writes: "Cold-temperature barriers are giving way, allowing parasites, bacteria and other disease-spreading organisms to move toward higher latitudes." That's potentially devastating news for one of the last frontiers of healthy Chinook salmon populations.

You might be familiar with Ich if you have a home aquarium. Oceana scientist Jon Warrenchuk says, "I myself have had to buy medicinal drops for fish in both saltwater and freshwater tanks, and never thought the disease could be something that could also threaten wild populations of species...gross." Indeed, Jon.

Read Weiss' in-depth piece, or check out the interview with him on the public radio show Living on Earth.

[Photo via www.latimes.com]


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