Are salmon sharks factor in king salmon decline?

Are salmon sharks factor in king salmon decline?

Given their name, it’s not surprising that salmon sharks eat salmon. But Alaska researchers are now asking whether the animals might have any impact on declining numbers of Bering Sea king salmon.

Andy Seitz, assistant professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska School of Fisheries and Ocean Science, hopes preliminary research collected from tags he attached to the salmon might help answer that question.

“It’s too early to tell if salmon sharks have any impact on abundance on king salmon in the ocean, but it’s certainly another factor that should be investigated,” Seitz said in a phone interview from Fairbanks Wednesday.

Seitz has been using the “pop-up” tags in research for 15 years. The tags, which monitor depth, temperature and can estimate location, are designed to pop off the fish after a pre-determined length of time and float to the ocean surface. Seitz’s research started with bluefin tuna and moved to halibut 12 years ago. In 2012, with technology improving and the tags getting smaller, he tagged Dolly Varden in Northwest Alaska.

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