Sockeye salmon are making a return to the Pacific Northwest, and they’re already doing so in record shattering numbers–with plenty more on the way.
This past Wednesday, a record-breaking 41,573 sockeye salmon were spotted making their way back to the Columbia Basin, and 38,000 were recorded the Monday before that. To put that into perspective, there have been several occasions where only 38,000 sockeye salmon were recorded crossing Bonneville Dam outside Portland, Oregon in an entire year.
Officials suspect that, in total, around 400,000 sockeye salmon will make their way up the Columbia Basin for the year. Considering that the count is already at 290,000, that seems likely.
So what is it that is causing the massive increase in sockeye salmon in the northwest? According to a report from MSNBC, it’s a combination of habitat improvements and good luck.
“Biologists credit habitat improvements in the Okanagan Basin of northern Washington and Canada, improved dam operations, and favorable ocean conditions for the numbers. Okanagan sockeye swim more than 500 miles to spawn.”
Sockeye salmon are known to swim farther to spawn than any other species of salmon found in the northwest. In fact, sockeye salmon are willing to travel upwards of 500 miles to find an ideal spawning ground. A typical sockeye salmon will cross roughly nine dams before reaching their spawning grounds, usually in northern Washington and Canada.