Extreme Heat Is Killing Off Thousands of Fish in Alaska
Unusually hot, dry weather in Alaska is wreaking havoc on fisheries, as thousands of fish perish in overheated waters. Last month, 1,100 king salmon died on their way up to the Crystal Lake hatchery due to water temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and lack of oxygen. That’s the bulk of the 1,800 adult salmon that were expected to return to the hatchery this season.
Earlier in the summer, another hatchery lost hundreds of grayling and rainbow trout in a Fairbanks lake where water temperatures reached 76 degrees. Alaska’s heat wave broke records last week, with 14 days straight above 70 degrees in Anchorage and 31 days of 80 degrees in Fairbanks.
Officials cited a number of factors affecting the fish, but observed that the die-off coincided with the hottest weather of the season. While die-offs are not uncommon, Doug Fleming, a sportfish biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, suggested the magnitude of the die-off was surprising.