|Back in the river, shortly.|
This year's Atlantic salmon return total of 624 fish was about a quarter of last year's healthier 3,125 incoming salmon, and the second lowest since the trap first went into operation in 1978.
Goode says that some of the data support the theory that food sources may have been compromised, especially during the year following its first departure from the river. Starvation during that "grilse" stage may have resulted in many deaths in that first year. Goode's report noted that returning survivors are smaller, apparently stunted by low food availability in that important first year at sea
“It appears that the grilse that did return to [the Penobscot] this year were generally smaller than normal, with many anglers in Canada reporting that they were catching a lot of two-pound grilse,” the report states, according to the Bangor Daily News. “This may be an indication of a lack of food at some time during the year from the smolt to the grilse stage that might have caused some to die and survivors to be smaller.
What is apparent is that the mortality issue is one that is occuring in the sea, since grilse runs are generally down all over and do not appear to be related to smolt production in fresh water.”