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Posted Mon Apr 28 2008: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Killer Sea Lice
Alarmed, Ms. Morton took out a dip net and pulled up dozens of wild juvenile pink salmon. They were bleeding from the eyeballs and the base of the fins. Most of them were covered with brown flecks -- juvenile sea lice. As they grow, changing their body shape every few days, these parasitic copepods strip mucus, scales and skin from the growing fish. While a full-grown salmon has an armour coating of scales and can survive an infestation, the parasites exhaust the young fish and quickly kill them off. Using hand seine nets to sample local waters, Ms. Morton established that the salmon farmers were raising millions of adult farmed Atlantic salmon along the migration routes of wild Pacific salmon - in exactly those inlets and estuaries where juvenile wild Pacific fattened up before going to sea. Suddenly, the decline of wild salmon populations did not seem like such a mystery: The 27 farms in the Broughton, had, by crowding normally nomadic fish into tightly packed nets, become ranches for sea lice, concentrating and fatally passing on parasites to wild salmon when they were at their most vulnerable. In 2002, government scientists predicted that 3.6 million pink salmon would return to the Broughton. Fewer than 150,000 did - a 97-per cent-population crash.
[Read more stories about: stupid humans, bad policy, hunting to extinction]

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