The effects of various factors (water temperature, food availability, predation, and the size of juveniles) on the survival of Pacific salmons during overwintering in open ocean waters are analyzed based on the data collected by expeditions of the Pacific Research Fisheries Center to the northwestern Pacific Ocean in the winter and spring seasons of 1986–1992 and 2009–2011, as well as in the summer seasons of 2004–2011. The temperature factor is unlikely to be a direct cause of the high salmon mortality in the ocean during the winter, as there is no clear evidence that it affects food availability for salmon. The biomass of forage zooplankton in the Subarctic Front zone in February and March is lower than that in April and June–July, but it does not decrease substantially in the winter months. Taking the fact into account that the total abundance of planktivorous nekton is also low in this area during the winter, food availability cannot be considered a crucial factor that has a serious influence on salmon mortality in this period. The difference in feeding intensity between salmon species and between their size groups in the winter and spring is determined by their life strategies. The observed variations in feeding intensity and lipid accumulation from autumn to spring are caused by cyclic seasonal changes in physiological processes in salmon rather than by the amount and availability of food resources. The low abundance of predators in subarctic waters and in the Subarctic Front zone in the winter also cannot reduce salmon abundance substantially. The probable relationship between the critical size of juveniles and their survival in the winter is considered using the example of a Sea of Okhotsk stock of pink salmon. The conclusion is that the size of juvenile pink salmon cannot always be used as a predictor of the values of its subsequent returns, because survival of salmon during the ocean period of life depends both on the initial conditions during downstream migration and on the ocean conditions that form in the winter. Thus, none of the factors above can be considered as strictly limiting the abundance of Pacific salmon in the winter. It is more probable that the survival of salmon in the ocean is influenced, to a lesser or greater extent, by the combined effects of abiotic and biotic factors.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 8, 2017
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