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#253 Kunimasu

Extinct in the Wild

Around the World in 80 Days - Day 45

These are a small black salmon found in Japan. They were thought to be extinct back in 1940. They lived in a lake that became inhospitable because it was too acidic after a hydroelectric project. In 1935, before the project happened, a lot of eggs had been taken to Saiko Lake and some others. None of the eggs survived elsewhere and it was assumed that none survived at Saiko Lake. In 2010 though, some fish were found. There is only one known spawning site within the lake, and they need to be able to bury their eggs in gravel with a lot of spring water flowing in the area. Without that, the eggs just do not survive. I am uncertain why they are considered extinct in the wild since they are in a lake. No, it isn't the lake they originally came from, but it is not exactly living in captivity. They are being bred in captivity as well, but maybe they will have their classification upgraded if a survey is done again.

I went down to the river in the Columbia River Gorge one time with my best friend. This was after the salmon run had happened, and there were a lot of salmon skeletons littering the river banks and bottom of the river. It was rather amazing seeing them all, and sad but happy at the same time. They were dead because they were continuing the species. If you go to the Bonneville dam there you can see salmon swimming through the fish ladders. They can certainly get to be a lot longer than the Kunimasu does. The thing is though, when I was young I remembered the salmon being bigger than they are now. Granted, I was a lot smaller when I was a kid than I am now, and I could possibly have been remembering wrong. I decided to look it up though and see if salmon were getting smaller. In Alaska there has been a noticeable decline in the size of salmon. I also looked up pictures of salmon caught in Oregon long before I was born, and there used to be salmon that weighed over 100 pounds. Dams are blamed for the decline in size of our salmon but hatcheries and dwindling food are thought to be at fault for the decline in Alaska. I feel pretty proud of myself for noticing that the salmon were shrinking, not being someone who fishes at all, but also wish my memory was wrong.

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