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Chinook salmon are shrinking – but why?

Chinook salmon
A Chinook salmon frequents Oregon’s McKenzie River. (Morgan Bond Photo via UW)

King salmon, the big fish that are famous in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, are shrinking — not only in numbers, but in size as well.

A study published today in the journal Fish and Fisheries has found that the largest and oldest Chinook salmon (also known as king salmon or Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) have mostly disappeared along the West Coast.

“Chinook are known for being the largest Pacific salmon, and they are highly valued because they are so large,” lead author Jan Ohlberger, a research scientist in the UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said in a news release. “The largest fish are disappearing, and that affects subsistence and recreational fisheries that target these individuals.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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