US Navy

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Marine Species Monitoring

Telemetry and Genetic Identity of Chinook Salmon in Alaska

Introduction & Objectives

Nine distinct Evolutionary Significant Units (ESU) of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed Chinook salmon may occur in both the Gulf of Alaska and the offshore waters of Washington.  An improved understanding of the distribution, habitat use, seasonality, movement patterns and predation of the large immature life stage of the Chinook salmon is critical when considering both population dynamics and potential interaction with human activity.  Therefore, the goal of this study is to provide critical information on the spatial and temporal distribution of Chinook salmon and to utilize genetic analysis techniques to inform salmon management.

Technical Approach

Tagging is occurring at several sites within the Gulf of Alaska. PSATs will be attached to healthy fish of sufficient size to track their movements.  After a pre-determined time, the tag will detach, float to the surface, and transmit recorded movement data via satellite to the researchers.  Tissue samples will also be collected for laboratory genetic analysis in order to determine fish origin.

Progress & Results

To date, Chinook salmon have been tagged near Chignik and Kodiak, AK; 20 PSATs were placed on suitably sized Chinook near Chignik in August 2020 and 20 PSATs were placed on suitably sized Chinook near Kodiak in October 2020. Tissue samples were collected during both field efforts. Yakutat fieldwork will begin in early 2021. Deployed PSATs will transmit to Argos satellites on their programmed release date and provide recorded movement data.