CCGS W.E. Ricker Gulf of Alaska Salmon Survey, October 17 to November 9, 2002

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Abstract

The Highseas Salmon program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted a survey of Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska during October 17 to November 9, 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 Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia (48.8°N) to Icy Strait in Southeast Alaska (58.3°N).

A total of 3969 Pacific salmon were caught on the survey. Of these, 1961 were juvenile pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), 1224 were juvenile chum salmon (O. keta), 42 were juvenile sockeye salmon (O. nerka), 194 were juvenile coho salmon (O. kisutch) in their first fall in the ocean, and 460 were chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) under 350 mm in fork length.

Juvenile pink, chum, sockeye, and coho were caught on the shelf throughout the survey area from the west coast of Vancouver Island to Icy Point off Southeast Alaska, and along the inside passageways of Southeast Alaska.

Chinook were caught primarily around Vancouver Island and along the inside passageways of Southeast Alaska. Chinook from 100 to 199 mm in fork length were caught inside the inlets and close to the beach along the shelf off the west coast of Vancouver Island. These were most likely age 0.0, ocean type chinook, based on CWT recoveries from this survey and our fall, 2001 survey.

Juvenile pink, chum, sockeye, and coho were progressively larger from off the west coast of Vancouver Island to Southeast Alaska.