Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1876
Title: Early ocean dispersal patterns of Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon
Author: Joseph P. Fisher, Laurie A. Weitkamp, David J. Teel, Susan A. Hinton, Joseph A. Orsi, E. Farley, J. F.T. Morris, M. E. Thiess, R. M. Sweeting, Marc Trudel
Publication Year: 2014
Journal: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume: 143
Issue: 1
Pages: 252-272
Keywords: Columbia River,Chinook salmon,coho salmon,marine ecology,migration

Several evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) of Columbia River Basin Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and Coho salmon O. kisutch are listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  Yet little is known about the spatial and temporal distributions of these ESUs immediately following ocean entry, when year–class success may be determined.  We documented differences in dispersal patterns during the early ocean period among groups defined by ESU, adult run timing, and smolt age.  Between 1995 and 2006, 1,896 coded–wire–tagged juvenile fish from the Columbia River basin were recovered during 6,142 research trawl events along the West Coast of North America.  Three distinct ocean dispersal patterns were observed:
(1) age–1 (yearling) mid and upper Columbia River spring–run and Snake River spring/summer–run Chinook salmon migrated rapidly northward and by late summer were not found south of Vancouver Island;
(2) age–0 (subyearling) lower Columbia River fall, upper Columbia River summer, upper Columbia River fall, and Snake River fall Chinook salmon dispersed slowly, remaining mainly south of Vancouver Island through autumn; and
(3) age–1 lower Columbia River spring, upper Columbia River summer, and upper Willamette River spring Chinook salmon and Coho salmon were widespread along the coast from summer through fall, indicating a diversity of dispersal rates. 
Generally, the ocean dispersal of age–1 fish was faster and more extensive than that of age–0 fish, with some age–1 fish migrating as fast as 1040 km/d (0.5–3.0 body lengths/s).  Within groups, interannual variation in dispersal was moderate.  Identification of the distinct temporal and spatial ocean distribution patterns of juvenile salmon from Columbia River basin ESUs is important in order to evaluate the potential influence of changing ocean conditions on the survival and long–term sustainability of these fish populations. 


Used recoveries of tagged juvenile Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon to determine their early marine distribution and migration patterns.

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Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Characterize habitat effects on ecosystem processes, ecological interactions and the health of organisms.
Develop methods, in collaboration with ocean users, to reduce/eliminate fishing gear and other anthropogenic impacts on habitat .