Pacific Salmon traced to their origin in new study

Pacific Salmon have officially had their roots successfully traced. According to a recent study, a team of researchers and scientists utilized a chemical tagging in the ears of the creatures to actually determine the origin of the salmon. The same type of study was executed on a species of salmon that originates near Alaska. The goals of these types of studies is to actually determine where these fish spend the first year, or two of their life. That is something that has evaded scientists and researchers for some time.

Sean Brennan, the lead author of the study pointed out that, “Each fish has this little recorder, and we can reveal the whole life history of the fish from the perspective of the otolith. Each growth ring is a direct reflection of the environment the fish was swimming in at the time it was formed.” However, it goes far beyond just understanding what these fish do in their first year, or two of life. It’s about understanding more about their origins, as well.


Matthew Wooller of the University of Alaska Fairbanks pointed out that, “This particular element and its isotopes are very strongly related to geography.” Wooller was also the co-author of the study. He went on to point out that, Alaska is a mosaic of geologic heterogeneity. As long as you can look at a geologic map and see rocks that are really different, that’s a good potential area.” That’s what was so important about this study. It was about understanding the region more, which to this day has been studied on a very limited basis given how diverse the region actually is. While many people automatically assume that it’s anything less than an expansive natural place that is where most go wrong.

There is a lot to be studied, and now many more studies will be coming on its heels, given the success that this one has now seen. Christian Zimmerman, who also co-authored this study pointed out that, “Using this approach, we will be able to map salmon productivity and determine how freshwater habitats influence the ultimate number of salmon. With declines in Chinook salmon in Western Alaska, fishery and land-use managers need better information about freshwater habitats to guide conservation.”

This process is something that many can expect to see duplicated and continued into the future. The success that this study saw was just one step in the evolution of the entire habitat in Alaska. Now, teams like this one can work to better understand other species by utilizing this system, and these ear bone tags.