Pink salmon catches in Nunavik raise red flags for biologists

“These are the first official records of this invasive alien species in Quebec”

If you see this fish in Nunavik waters, Quebec wildlife officials want to know. This image from Quebec’s wildlife department shows how, in the ocean (top) pink salmon are bright-silver fish. After returning to their spawning streams, however, their colour changes to pale grey on the back with a yellowish-white belly (bottom), although some turn an overall dull-green colour. (Image courtesy of the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks)

By Jane George

After learning about catches of pink salmon near Salluit, Quebec wildlife officials, eager to know more about the salmon’s appearance in Nunavik waters, are urging any fishers who net the newcomers to report their catch.

Two pink salmon were netted in Nunavik during the summer of 2019 in the Ungava Bay region, one near Kangirsuk, and another near Kangiqsualujjuaq.

This year, two pink salmon were caught near Salluit.

“These are the first official records of this invasive alien species in Quebec. Our team would like to paint a current picture of the situation,” said a notice from the Quebec’s ministry of forests, wildlife and parks, which was circulated on social media.

If you think you have caught a pink salmon, the wildlife ministry officials hope you take a photo of the fish and contact them by email at observations_eae@mffp.gouv.qc.ca or by phone at 1-877-346-6763.

Or you can also freeze the entire fish and send it to the Nunavik Research Centre in Kuujjuaq.

There, your contacts are Lilian Tran or Peter May, who can be reached by email at pmay@makivik.org and ltran@makivik.org or by phone at 819-964-2925.

Meanwhile, many biologists are studying pink salmon as a way of gaining insight into warming temperatures in the Arctic.

“Due to their short, two-year life cycle, pink salmon are well known to respond rapidly to ecosystem change and can provide unique insight into ecosystem impacts of warming Arctic conditions,” said the authors of a recent research study called “Response of pink salmon to climate warming in the northern Bering Sea.”

Pink salmon have already been sighted in the Canadian western Arctic, as far to the east as Cambridge Bay, along the Newfoundland-Labrador coasts, as well as in Scotland and England.

Since 1960, pink salmon have been observed in Norwegian waters, after Russia introduced pink salmon fry in rivers draining into the White Sea in northwest Russia.

Because of the spread of pink salmon, wildlife officials fear the species could put extra pressure on wild Atlantic salmon stocks from new parasites and diseases.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Fellinni on

    There’s a lot of commentary these days on how twitter has taken over the news, where news organizations feel a compulsion somehow to report of what happens on twitter as if it were real news, not the form of virtual reality that it is.

    The dentists who came to Iqaluit didn’t actually say much of anything that the rest of us don’t know, though most who have lived here for any length of time have learned the social rules here; that is, never speak honestly about how bad things are or point out ugly truths.

    On the occasion that it happens, of course the vultures at this news organization feel justified in amplifying the incident and making the lives of these dentists much more difficult. Why? Because they committed a thought crime. In the process, ironically, they didn’t actually say anything untrue, only ‘offensive’ (i.e. something people don’t like to hear).

    You should be ashamed of yourselves for this, Nunatsiaq. Yet I know you’re not; you feel like you are performing a service to some greater cosmic justice, right? In reality you are trolling the entire territory with this so called ‘twitter’ [non] event. Disgusting.

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