Fish Turning Up Dead In Warm Alaska Waters

Photo courtesy of Mark Titus/The Breech movie
Photo courtesy of Mark Titus/The Breech movie

It’s been a  warm summer in Alaska (but enough to play the dreaded “heat wave” card?). But manufactured or not, warm water temperatures have taken a toll on fish:

Here’s the Alaska Dispatch with more:

Unusually warm water temperatures and low river levels are killing salmon in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys. Hundreds of Arctic char, recently stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, have also gone belly up in Campbell Point Lake, also known as Little Campbell Lake, inside Anchorage’s Kincaid Park.

 Habitat biologists are calling the conditions “almost a perfect storm,” but don’t believe the die-offs will have lasting effects on fish numbers in Southcentral Alaska.

 “It will have some impact but in the long term for species that return multiple age classes, I wouldn’t characterize it as a disaster,” said Mike Bethe, Mat-Su area manager for the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

 Fish and Game biologists have reported water temperatures as high as 74 degrees in Jim Creek — a small tributary of the Knik River. Some dead salmon have been found near the river’s weir, where Fish and Game staff count incoming fish to monitor and manage the run. Combined with low water levels, which make it difficult for salmon to move upstream to spawn, the fish die-offs have forced Fish and Game to close Jim Creek to all fishing on Mondays and Tuesdays. And dead fish have been turning up in other Mat-Su streams, including Lucille CreekFish Creek and Cottonwood Creek.

 This summer has been among the warmest on record for much of Southcentral Alaska, and a lack of winter snow and summer rain have contributed to low water levels.