Abstract

The Highseas Salmon program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted a survey of Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska during June 9-11, 2003. 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. Our typical Highseas Salmon survey covers an area of coast line that spans from Vancouver Island to Southeast Alaska. Unfortunately, oceanographic, fish and zooplankton sampling was limited to stations off the west coast of Vancouver Island because the ship broke down.

A total of 1237 Pacific salmon were caught on the survey. Of these, 943 were juvenile pink (O. gorbuscha), chum (O. keta), coho salmon (O. kisutch), and sockeye (O. nerka) salmon in their first summer in the ocean and 71 were chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) under 350mm in fork length.

Juvenile sockeye were caught on the continental shelf within the 1000 m isobath off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and juvenile chum, coho, and chinook under 350mm in fork length were caught both on the shelf and inside Kyuquot Sound. No juvenile pink were caught.