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Record warm water blamed for salmon deaths

BETHEL, Alaska — Record high temperatures in Alaska are believed to be the culprit behind salmon deaths in western Alaska.

Bethel-based KYUK reports water temperatures near the town broke into the low 70s earlier this week. That’s the highest river temperature ever recorded there.

Ben Gray, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, says that what could occur is that salmon metabolism speeds up to the point they are having heart attacks.

Residents along the lower Kuskokwim River have reported dead salmon floating downstream.

Gray and his colleagues counted about 20 dead salmon when they boated between Bethel and Akiak.

The warm water temperatures also are suspected to be the cause of parasites infesting salmon in the river.

Norton Sound residents have reported large numbers of dead pink salmon.

The Associated Press