Volcanic overflow ruins Alaska salmon run

Sep 12, 2005

Salmon fishing along the King Salmon River on the Alaska Peninsula has been canceled -- primarily because no salmon showed up this year.

Fly-fishing guide Jon Kent told the Anchorage Daily News wild salmon sometimes are late, so he wasn't concerned in June. But then no salmon returned in July either along the river's upper section, which drains the flank of the Mount Chiginagak volcano about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The river then started to turn orange, with "weird reddish foam and scum starting to come down the river."

When he boated upstream he found dead plants, gulls missing from an island and fish gone from the lake. Even brown bears were gone. Kent told the newspaper, "It's like someone dropped a bomb on the place."

State scientists subsequently found a new 1,300-foot-wide crater lake near the 7,005-foot volcano's summit had spilled, producing a foul slurry leaving part of the with an acidic pH level of 3.

Chiginagak has no recent history of eruption. However, scientists left a seismic recorder in the area to determine whether the volcano is becoming active. They won't have data for several weeks.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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