An innovative DNA-matching system could save depleted Coho salmon populations and restore critical genetic diversity before it’s too late.
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The west coast of the United States was once teeming with salmon populations from Baja California to Alaska. 75 years ago, up to 400,000 coho salmon would return to spawn in California streams. But recently those numbers have dropped to as low as 8,000.
These fish are not only an incredible symbol of the region, they’re an important indicator for the health of their entire ecosystem.
Now, in order to save them from the brink of extinction, a group of experts devised a fish match-making service of sorts… complete with DNA profiles and tiny barcodes.
Special thanks to:
Jennifer Carah – The Nature Conservancy
Benjamin White – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Rory Taylor – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Ken Leister– U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Bradley Stokes – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Erin Seghesio – National Marine Fisheries Service
Dan Wilson – National Marine Fisheries Service
Josh Fuller – National Marine Fisheries Service
David Hines – California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Scott Kelly – The Conservation Fund
To Save Its Salmon, California Calls In The Fish Matchmaker
“Dr. Garza said he saw a bright future for this process. He wants to use genetic tools at large hatcheries — not to dictate every mating but to get DNA fingerprints and then track every hatchery fish from birth to death. That way, he said, the hatcheries could deduce which spawning and management techniques led to healthier fish.”
Epigenetics may hold answers to the survival of hatchery-born salmon
Two young coho salmon swim from freshwater to saltwater for the first time. One was born in the wild; the other was born in a hatchery and released into the same river. The wild-born salmon is more likely to survive — and scientists want to know why.
The Status of California’s Salmon and Steelhead
“About 75 years ago, about 400,000 coho salmon returned to spawn in California streams. Over this last decade, those numbers have decreased and now range from 8,000 to 30,000 coho annually.”
Species of all shapes and sizes, as well as the ecosystems where they exist, are on the brink of disappearing forever. But, we don’t have to let that happen. Seeker travels the world interviewing the researchers, engineers, scientists and adventurers who are dedicating their lives to saving, preserving and protecting the most vulnerable plants, animals, people and places on Earth.
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