Record numbers of a once-waning population of sockeye salmon have been returning to the Northwest’s Columbia Basin this summer, with thousands more crossing the river’s dams in a single day than the total numbers seen in some previous years.
Since Bonneville Dam outside Portland was built in 1938, there have been plenty of times there weren’t 38,000 sockeye salmon swimming over the fish ladders in a whole year. But on Monday that many passed the Columbia River dam, and another 41,000 swam over the dam on Wednesday — a rate of nearly 30 a minute. That bought the total so far to 290,000.
A record run of more than 400,000 of the Columbia Basin’s farthest-swimming salmon are expected to return this year, almost all of them wild fish bred in rivers, instead of the hatcheries that produce most Northwest salmon.