‘Lost at Sea’ – Identifying the marine foraging grounds and resource use of Inner Bay of Fundy populations of Atlantic salmon
To date, the iBoF recovery program has explicitly focused on the freshwater component of the life cycle of targeted populations. The program has been successful in increasing the number of smolts leaving the Big Salmon, Upper Salmon, Gaspereau and Petitcodiac Rivers in recent years. However, if the program to achieve its objective of robust populations independent of continued stocking in these rivers, these smolts must feed and mature at sea prior to returning as adults. Despite the expectation that adult iBoF salmon will spend their entire marine growth phase in the Bay of Fundy (Lacroix & Knox, 2005; Lacroix, 2008), the marine component of this recovery program has not been addressed. In order to ascertain the marine threats to each population and develop associated conservation measures, we must first identify where each population migrates to, and subsequently whether there are inter-annual and life-stage related variations within the migration of each population. This research project will provide the essential data to guide inform such conservation programs in the future. This project will provide the first description of the marine feeding grounds of salmon which return to iBoF rivers to spawn, and the marine resources which support their development while at sea. We will be able to definitively state whether each individual adult salmon returning to an iBoF river has primarily fed within the Bay of Fundy or whether it has migrated outside of the Bay as is characteristic of salmon smolts leaving other rivers within the region (Soto et al., 2018). In addition, for individuals identified as having predominantly foraged in the Bay, we will identify the resources they fed on while at sea. This information is crucial to identifying the challenges faced by recovering salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy. The primary focus of this project will be iBoF salmon.
Contact: Dr. Brian Hayden, 506-440-8339, firstname.lastname@example.org