Monday, August 29th, 2011
Chum Salmon Carcass

A spawned out Chum salmon is washed up on the shore near Salmon Creek along Gastineau Channel. Salmon returning to their spawning grounds transport millions of tons of nutrients from the nutrient rich marine environment to nutrient poor freshwater tributaries, increasing production at all levels of the food chain, from bacteria and algae communities to top predators, such as bears. Salmon are often referred to as “keystone” species in both aquatic and terrestrial environments, meaning they influence survival or reproduction of other species. More than 40 species of vertebrates, including salmon, trout, birds and mammals directly benefit from annual salmon runs by feasting on salmon, their eggs, carcasses, or their young. So even as carcasses, salmon help ensure overwinter survival of many species by providing nutrients at summers end.

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