FISHING -- A chinook salmon with a mouth deformed by sores and tumors caught June 9 in the Little Salmon River by Idaho angler Clinton Kingston is getting plenty of attention on social media.
The grotesque springer has generated discussion on topics that ranged to the possibility of exposure to radiation from Japan's Fukushima disaster. Indeed, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Researchers have been monitoring for radiated fish, but no conclusions have been reached.
Idaho Fish and Game scientists are interested in the Little Salmon River specimen, but not necessarily alarmed.
Diseases and abnormalities occasionally occur in a population, as research indicates. If they occur several times in a run, it's a different story.
Says one IFG pathologist, who had yet to get a sample of the fish:
“During the late 1990s these tumors were prevalent in our salmon in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. I know I saw these at South Fork Trap and Sawtooth. I sent the tissues to the Tumor Registry and the wizards from there said it was either Squamous Cell Carcinoma or Ameloblastoma (this makes sense).
“If a bunch “of fish” come back with this tumor, I guess there would be reasons for concern.”
Nevertheless, samples of the fish’s tissue would be sent to Washington State University for lab analysis, he said.
According to Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game’s regional fisheries manager in Lewiston, the manager of the Rapid River River Hatchery on the Little Salmon River "said they have not seen any like that show up at the hatchery rack this year, and over the last 20 years, they have just seen a few."
They're keeping on the lookout.