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Why Are Striped Bass Appearing In The Changing Waters Of Canada’s Salmon Kingdom?

Source: Hakai Magazine/John Waldman - March 8, 2018 in Environment

Why Are Striped Bass Appearing In The Changing Waters Of Canada’s Salmon Kingdom?
Photo: Timothy Knepp/USFWS/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

For fly fishers, Atlantic salmon is the king of fish. It’s a dream to cast into an unspoiled river on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula and hook seven kilograms of silvery beauty. But in 2017, fishers all the way to Newfoundland and even in several locations in Labrador caught a startling intruder, a fish so surprising, some anglers didn’t even recognize their catch.

Why have striped bass suddenly materialized in the kingdom of the Atlantic salmon?

Striped bass—a fish that lives as far south as Florida—was long a marginal species in the cold waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, sustaining small populations only in New Brunswick’s Miramichi River and Quebec’s Saint Lawrence River. But over the past decade, stripers have shown up all around the southern gulf where they had not been seen before, including in Bras d’Or Lake, Nova Scotia’s giant inland brackish sea.

The Miramichi is perhaps a bellwether of the species clash. It has long been revered as one of the world’s finest salmon rivers, where salmon coexisted with about 5,000 striped bass in the river’s lower reaches.

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