The Highseas Salmon program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted a survey of Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska during February 27 to March 17, 2002. The objectives of the surveys were to (1) evaluate the distribution and ecology of juvenile Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) during their first year in the ocean, (2) describe the ambient oceanographic conditions, and (3) quantify the biomass of zooplankton, an important prey for Pacific salmon at sea. Fish, oceanographic, and zooplankton sampling was conducted at stations spanning the area from Juan du Fuca in southern British Columbia (48.4°N) to Frederick Sound in Southeast Alaska (57.2°N).
A total of 434 Pacific salmon were caught on the survey. Of these, 146 were juvenile coho salmon (O. kisutch) in their first winter in the ocean and 270 were chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) under 350 mm in fork length.
Juvenile coho were caught in Juan du Fuca Strait, and both near shore and up the inlets off the west coast of Vancouver Island. No juvenile coho were caught north of Vancouver Island.
Juvenile chinook under 350 mm in fork length were also caught in Juan du Fuca Strait, and both on the shelf and up the inlets off the west coast of Vancouver Island. However, in contrast to juvenile coho, they were also caught further north in Southeast Alaska.