Chinook salmon in danger of being wiped out

Posted Dec 22, 2014 by Karen Graham
A new climate change study conducted by the University of British Columbia scientists does not bode well for the West Coast's Chinook Salmon stocks. The question of the salmon's ability to adapt to warming waters was the basis of the study.
Chinook salmon
Chinook salmon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The climate change research study concluded the West Coast's prized Chinook salmon stocks could be wiped out over the next 85 years. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on December 22, predicts that there is the possibility of a five percent catastrophic loss of Chinook salmon stocks by 2075, and as much as 98 percent will be gone by the year 2100.
The research team included biologists from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, along with Yellow Island Aquaculture Limited, Heriot Bay, B.C. They conducted studies using juvenile Chinook salmon to test the adaptation of the species to increasing temperatures.
UBC zoologist Anthony Farrell was part of the research group. He said juvenile salmon studied developed serious heart problems in water temperatures higher than 24.5 C. This figure was the upper limits, and given a variance of ± 2.2 °C, and was consistent with present-day river temperatures and predicted rises in temperatures. Farrell explained that "a juvenile chinook’s heart beats faster with warming water until, at 24.5° Celsius, it can beat no faster and “slows or goes arrhythmic.”
In conclusion, the study points to the dire consequences of global warming if it remains unchecked. This scenario has implications not just for the Chinook salmon, but predators like the endangered southern resident killer whales who feed on the salmon. As to whether or not the Chinook will be able to adapt to rising temperatures is questionable. The report states: "Climate change mitigation is thus necessary to ensure the future viability of Pacific salmon populations."