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Weather Responsible for Salmon Starvation

OREGON - Scientists examining the sudden and widespread collapse of West Coast salmon returns are pointing to the unusual changes in weather patterns that caused the bottom to fall out of the ocean food web in 2005, writes Jeff Barnard on Capital Press's Ag Website.

Earlier this week reports from NOAA Fisheries Service oceanographer Bill Peterson said the juvenile salmon that left their native rivers and entered the Pacific Ocean in 2005 found little food being transported by the California Current, which flows from the northern Pacific south along the West Coast.

The reason was that the jet stream had shifted to the south, delaying the spring onset of winds out of the north that create a condition known as upwelling, which kickstarts the ocean food web by stirring the water from bottom to top, the agency said.

"If there is no upwelling, there is no phytoplankton growth, no zooplankton growth, and basically you have no food chain that develops, because it all depends on the upwelling," Peterson said from Newport.

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Ellen Hardy

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