Navigating the World’s oceans is a difficult task, finding a small place where you were born two years earlier without any navigational tools at all is impossible for most. Pink salmon are an incredible species capable of this and so much more, but now they are faced with their greatest challenge to date. Pink salmon must somehow survive the changing chemistry due to climate change, that is altering their environment, and posing the greatest risk the species will likely ever face.
A disruption in overall function
While it is not entirely known how salmon manage to navigate treacherous waters to return to the place they are born, research shows that changes in the water have affected the way they perceive the world around them, and could greatly impact the way that salmon migrate. Researchers at The University of British Columbia are among the first to identify the areas of concern for the future of salmon in a changing environment, “These data indicate that future populations of pink salmon may be at risk without mitigation and highlight the need for further studies on the impact of CO2-induced acidification on freshwater systems.”
There’s something in the water
Acidification in bodies of water is caused by an increase in CO2 emissions on land, which in turns affects the ocean which absorbs a quarter of the CO2 that we produce on earth every year according to NOAA. Scientists are coming to terms with the ways that the species they study are being impacted by climate change every day, and playing the part of both researcher and conservationist to ensure the longevity of their research.
Colin Brauner of The University of British Columbia comments on the impact the change in water could have on the lives of the fish, “We found that freshwater acidification affects pink salmon and may impact their ability to survive and ultimately return to their freshwater spawning grounds.” If the salmon are unable to return to the place they spawn, they may be hesitant to spawn at all, or spawn in a place that is vulnerable to attack from predators. Salmon are a part of the freshwater ecosystem which faces unknown peril if CO2 emissions are not reduced, and acidification levels in the water continue to rise.