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TOGIAK: Dolly Varden Set Fishy Records
Alaska Region, June 3, 2005
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Biologists and subsistence fishers within the Bering Sea have teamed to document extraordinary fish migrations between Togiak and Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuges in southwest Alaska. On August 2, 2002 Togiak Refuge biologists tagged and released Dolly Varden #39729 approximately 50 miles up the Kanektok River, one of over 13,000 Dolly Varden tagged in the past six years to study their life history. But in April 2005, Dolly Varden #39729 achieved notoriety when it was caught in a small stream that feeds Norton Sound on the Yukon Delta Refuge. Dolly #39729 had traveled over 480 miles from where it was tagged, the most northerly migration of any Dolly Varden from Togiak Refuge. This colorful char, named after a character in a Charles Dickens? novel, is known for its intricate life cycle and migratory nature. Dolly Varden are anadromous ? returning to spawn and spend the winter in freshwater after 2-4 months feeding in the ocean.

Dolly #39729 is one of 35 fish recaptured by subsistence, sport, and commercial fishers during this study. Two other Dolly Varden tagged on Togiak River recorded long-distance travel: one was recovered from the Egegik River 200 miles to the southeast. Another set the record for traveling the furthest when it was caught near the village of Emmonak on the Yukon River some 500 miles northwest of where it was tagged. Each of these distance records were reported by local subsistence fishers, whose assistance has helped fisheries scientists understand the inter-river movements of Dolly Varden in southwest Alaska. Work continues on this study as biologists await the next tag recovery report from a distant river.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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