This coming fall’s Columbia River salmon run could be the biggest since 1938, but biologists are not sure why.
Biologists are predicting salmon will be swimming in droves up the Columbia River Basin, according to a report by the Oregonian. They expect an estimated 1.6 million Chinook salmon to make the journey from the Pacific Ocean back to the Basin’s waterways to spawn. Nearly 1 million coho salmon will join the Chinook to attempt similar migrations up the basin’s tributaries.
Salmon At Risk In CaliforniaOregon's southern neighbor, California, is suffering from a record drought that could wipe out the state's Coho salmon and steelhead populations.
This year’s record forecast comes on the heels of an incredible Columbia River salmon run last year. Last year, biologists estimated 1.2 million Chinook salmon returned to the Columbia River Basin from the Pacific ocean. That’s double the amount they expected. This year’s salmon forecast is expected to top that run.
Although, biologists are not entirely sure why the numbers of this year’s salmon are so high. They have a variety of ideas, but nothing is certain yet. The most likely cause is the higher water levels on the Columbia River, which make it easier for young salmon to swim back to the ocean. But some scientists say there is nothing out of the ordinary.
“We are a bit flummoxed,” oceanographer Bill Peterson said. “But what we have learned from this surprise is that we must be missing something so have recently begun to re-evaluate our forecast models.”
Oregon coastal towns, such as Astoria, have already begun preparing for the expected boost in tourism this fall. Anglers from all over the world will come to fish the famous Columbia River salmon run.
“This fall fishery is going to be a big scramble for all of us,” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “By the third week of August, you will not be able to find a parking spot in Astoria.”