Chinook salmon, a species of fish native to the Pacific Ocean, was first introduced to the Great Lakes in 1966 through Lake Michigan. The fish, bred from a hatchery and then dispersed through the lakes, increased the popularity of sport fishing throughout the area.
The fish have nearly disappeared in Lake Huron because of a shortage of food for the salmon and the presence of invasive mussels in the water, and a similar trend has begun to occur in Lake Michigan.
The species’ most popular food source are small fish called alewives, which have nearly disappeared in the lakes as well because of their popularity amongst salmon.
Many fisherman and officials are saddened by the imminent loss of the salmon because of the negative affects it might have on sport fishing in the Great Lakes region.
However, some scientists believe the change is beneficial because the loss of salmon allows for large native fish species such as walleye to make a comeback.
Though fish continue to be inserted in the lakes through hatcheries, most believe Lake Michigan’s salmon population will continue in the same vein as Lake Huron’s and decline even more over the next few years.