Virus May be Hurting Pacific Salmon


From the Vancouver Sun – Jan 13, 2011

by Margaret Munro

Volcanic eruptions, giant squid and sea lice have all been invoked to
explain the wild swings in one of Canada’s most valuable fisheries.

scientists have raised the spectre of a mysterious virus killing huge
numbers of Pacific salmon before they reach their spawning grounds.

mortality-related signature reflects a viral infection,” a team of
federal and university researchers reported Thursday in a study into the
collapse of British Columbia’s famed Fraser River sockeye runs.

compromised salmon that appeared to have a viral infection at sea — a
phenomenon co-author Scott Hinch at the University of British Columbia
describes as “dead fish swimming” — were 13.5 times more likely to die
before spawning than healthy fish.

The study, published
Thursday in the journal Science, does not identify a microbial culprit,
but suggests the virus may be associated with leukemia and lymphoma.

“There is no doubt there is some form of pathogen involved,” Hinch said.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.