Abstract

The Highseas Salmon program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted a survey of Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska during March 9-24, 2001. 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. Oceanographic, fish and zooplankton sampling was conducted at stations from Juan du Fuca Strait (48.3°N) to Icy Point off South-Central Alaska (58.4°N).

A total of 857 Pacific salmon were caught on the survey. Of these, 681 were chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), and 159 were juvenile coho salmon (O. kisutch) that were in their first year in the ocean.

Juvenile chinook under 350mm in fork length were caught over the range of the survey including the west coast of Vancouver Island, the inlets of on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Dixon Entrance, Southeast Alaska, and inside Southeast Alaska. In sharp contrast, juvenile coho were caught only off the west coast of Vancouver Island and within the inlets of Vancouver Island.