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An Up-Close View of Bristol Bay’s Astonishing Sockeye Salmon Runs

The first runner-up in the 2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest captures stunning images of the abundant sockeye salmon runs in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and tells the story of a 70-year-old project that has been studying the millions of salmon that annually pour into the region’s rivers to spawn.

Each year, in the largest salmon run in the world, an estimated 30 million sockeye salmon migrate into the rivers and lakes of Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. Their numbers have not always been as abundant, and in 1946, when the sockeye run underwent dramatic decline, the University of Washington began a study of the bay’s salmon that continues to this day.

In this video — the first runner-up in the 2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest — videographer Jason Ching captures stunning images of these rich salmon runs as he reports from Bristol Bay on the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Research Program, one of the world’s most exhaustive and longest-running fisheries studies. From counting, weighing, and measuring salmon to studying inner-ear bones that reveal the age and number of years a sockeye has been at sea, the scientists are continuing to build an invaluable data base. Ching’s video shows the exquisite beauty of these fish and their remarkable migrations.”