George Liles
NOAA Fisheries
508 495-2378


July 19, 2005

NMFS Northeast Regional Office

N         E         W         S

Atlantic Salmon Recovery Talk
To Be Given at Aquarium

Woods Hole, Mass. – NOAA Fisheries scientist John Kocik will give a public presentation on the effort to recover wild Atlantic salmon in U.S. waters Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Kocik is chief of the Atlantic Salmon Research and Conservation Task of NOAA Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fishery Science Center. His presentation is titled “Southern Salmon: Helping Salmon Make a Last Stand in Maine!”

Dr. John Kocik.

An adult Atlantic salmon.
The salmon presentation is one of four talks on endangered species this month at the aquarium. The Wednesday afternoon talks are part of the Woods Hole Science Aquarium High School Intern Program, which is sponsored jointly by NOAA Fisheries Service and the Marine Biological Laboratory.

Atlantic salmon are native to New England Rivers from Connecticut north to Canada. Industrial and agricultural development wiped out many Atlantic salmon populations in U.S. waters, and today remnant native populations can be found only in Maine. In 2000 this remaining native population was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Kocik and other scientists working in Maine are tracking smolts (young salmon) to estimate the number of fish leaving the rivers and to determine how many make a successful transition to marine life. These studies are helping to determine where, when, and why young salmon die. With a better understanding of smolt mortality, fishery managers can develop plans to protect the remaining salmon and rebuild the population to a healthy level.

Kocik will describe two current management programs that are being tested. One project is testing the hypothesis that changes in water quality (primarily pH) are compromising the health of smolts. In this project, scientists add calcium to rivers make the water less acidic and then track smolts to see if they are more successful in emigrating downstream and adapting to life in the ocean. Another project tests the hypothesis that avian predators (especially cormorants) are killing more smolts in estuaries than in the past. A team of scientists led by Kocik is working with the USDA to discourage cormorants from foraging in some steams and estuaries, and then measuring smolt survival rates in estuaries where the fish are protected.

A native of Gloversville, New York, Kocik attended college at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, earning a B.Sc. in Biology (1984). He earned his M.Sc. (1988) and Ph.D. (1992) in Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Michigan State University. He is an adjunct professor of fisheries at the University of Rhode Island and University of Massachusetts and serves on research faculty at University of Maine. He also serves on the United States Atlantic Salmon Assessment Committee and the Maine Technical Advisory Committee for Atlantic salmon.

A salmon smolt.

Salmon habitat in Maine.

Cormorants hunting salmon


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