Juvenile Sockeye and Oceanographic Monitoring Project

sockeye netSalmon Coast hosts the Johnstone Strait portion of the Hakai Institute’s Salmon Early Marine Survival Program (SEMSP). The SEMSP is a multi-region, multi-year initiative aiming to tackle some of the big questions about the early marine survival of juvenile salmon. The program involves researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria and the Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO).

The Salmon Coast based node of the SEMSP focuses on the western end of Johnstone Strait, an area that may act as a bottleneck of survival for young salmon. Juvenile pink, chum, sockeye, coho, and chinook salmon, as well as Pacific herring, are collected and preserved in nitrogen dry shippers and are screened for microbes (including viruses), genetic stock identification, parasite load, otolith analysis for growth rates, and identification of stomach contents. Oceanographic data is paired with the juvenile salmon data to provide insight on the biological, physical, and chemical conditions along their migration route.

Salmon Pathogen Study

Dylan Shea microscopeWhile there is evidence that salmon farms expose wild juvenile salmon to elevated infection pressure from sea lice exposure, there is less known about how salmon farms influence wild salmon risk of exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens. University of Toronto MSc student Dylan Shea is exploring this question by collecting and testing for salmon viruses in the water column near active and fallow salmon farms. He and his team also collect samples in the Discovery Islands, working out of the Hakai Research Institute’s Quadra Lab.

Locally, the results of this project may help to improve the management of Pacific salmon populations by identifying important risk factors associated with modern farming practices. More broadly, the methodologies that have been developed and employed for this work present a promising avenue moving forward for efficiently, and non-invasively, monitoring disease risk in aquatic systems to subsidize traditional monitoring techniques. We hope that improving our ability to monitor the release of microbes released from salmon farms will stimulate discussion between salmon farm managers and local stakeholders with the ultimate goal of improving the health of wild fish populations.

Awaḵ̕wa̱s: Gathering Place 

Trapper's Cabin MDTC cedar shack_croppedThe Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Tribal Council (MDTC) is revitalizing traditional, family-owned trap lines throughout the territories of the four MDTC nations. One of the first initiatives was constructing a simple split-cedar cabin, built in the tradition of trapper’s and hand-logger’s cabins of this coast. Thanks to an amazing all woman crew, donation of a beautiful cedar log by the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation (KHFN), and invaluable guidance from Billy Proctor, the cabin was a great success.

The project was filmed by the documentarian Lindsey Mae Willie of the Dzawada’enuxw and audio recorded by acoustic ethnographer Jennifer Schine, a Salmon Coast board member. Both artists are members of the Kingcome Collective, a place-based arts initiative. Together, they are making a documentary film set to premiere in 2018.

Connectivity model for sea lice dynamics

09_Peter Harrington_scfsnewsPhD candidate Peter Harrington of the University of Alberta is investigating the spread of sea lice between salmon farms. In the Broughton Archipelago, sea lice can spread between salmon farms either by hitching a ride on migrating wild salmon or simply by floating through the ocean as nauplii. Therefore, if a single farm experiences an outbreak of lice and subsequently treats the farm to remove the infestation, some lice will have already reached other farms before the treatment has taken effect. This project uses mathematical models to examine how times for first passage of sea lice past farms are influenced by different environmental factors, such as extent of mixing in the ocean due to tides or size of salmon farm. The goal is to see how quickly lice from an outbreak will spread to other farms, with a view to adjusting treatment protocols to minimize subsequent outbreaks and dispersal. Because many salmon farms in Broughton Archipelago are owned and operated by a single company, this research has significant potential to inform local management practices.

Colonization-competition dynamics of Caligus clemensi and Lepeophtheirus salmonis on juvenile salmon

In the region around Salmon Coast, primarily two species of sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus clemensi) parasitize farmed and wild salmon. While there is a great deal of research on the aquaculture-mediated effects of salmon-specific L. salmonis on wild Pacific salmon, relatively little is known about the second generalist species, C. clemensi. Recent work suggests that C. clemensi is highly prevalent and has important sub-lethal effects on wild juvenile Pacific salmon, but how L. salmonis and C. clemensi interact is not well understood. This project will apply theory on colonization-competition trade-offs to understand the dynamics between L. salmonis and C. clemensi on out-migrating pink and chum salmon in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia. The goal will be to understand whether one species may be a better colonizer (and the other a better competitor) and how that might facilitate their coexistence in conjunction with the flow of uncolonized “resources” (i.e., out-migrating uninfected juvenile salmon).