A particular highlight in the most excellent year of 2017 has been the escaped farmed salmon story out of Washington state. Just to remind everyone, an offshore salmon farm net broke and 160,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Pacific Ocean. A stupid and avoidable disaster.
Our most recent update has the salmon as far as 130 miles south of Tacoma and 250 miles northwest of Tofino. Additionally, they have been found in a number of rivers. Rivers, as you know, are freshwater, and salmon travel upstream when they are ready to spawn. Does this mean that they are getting ready to reproduce and uh oh, that would be bad.
There’s no evidence that they have, or are, reproducing, and scientists say it is unlikely. Do you know why they say this is unlikely? Because this, my friends, has happened before. The article states that during the 20th century governments, “intentionally introduced Atlantic salmon here. They dumped millions of fish eggs and young Atlantic salmon into Pacific rivers.” This went on until as recently as 1991. And massive farm escapes happened in 1996 (107,000 fish), 1997 (369,000 fish), and 1999 (115,000 fish).
It is mildly reassuring that despite the best efforts of truly dumbass people Atlantic salmon have never established permanent populations in the Pacific Northwest. But is that our best hope? That as much as we keep screwing up the planet, it has the resiliency to bounce back. Certainly there are untold numbers of invasive species that are dramatically destroying ecosystems – pythons in the Everglades, and rodents in New Zealand are the first examples that come to mind. There’s not much to say other than, this seems to be dumb luck, if it does not worsen.