As Alaskan Rivers Warm, Salmon Develop More Disease

Rising temperatures in rivers, linked to the rapid warming of the Arctic, is a likely cause of a parasitical disease that has infected thousands of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River, rendering them inedible, the Los Angeles Times reports. The disease — known as “white spot disease” and caused by a microscopic parasite, Ichthyophonus hoferi — infects the flesh of salmon, turning it mealy and foul-smelling; an outbreak of the parasite has been responsible for devastating losses in Scandinavia’s herring industry. Scientists believe the parasite flourishes in warmer water. In places, the temperature of the Yukon River has risen by 4 to 5 degrees C (6 to 8 F) as air temperatures have risen sharply and ice melts in the river earlier in spring.