Alaska’s humpback whales have found a way to use human encroachment on their ocean homes to their advantage: The clever cetaceans are sneaking into salmon hatcheries in Southeastern Alaska and helping themselves to the fish. But their clever tactics may soon wreak havoc on the state’s fishing industry, according to a report from the New Scientist.
Salmon hatcheries aren’t fish farms – rather, they’re set up to help support the wild salmon population in Alaskan waters. Once the salmon are mature (they’re at bred in captivity for around 18 months, a crucial stage during which many salmon die in the wild), they’re released into the ocean, increasing the overall salmon available to catch and preventing overfishing of the wild salmon.
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It was a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks named Ellen Chenoweth who first noticed the whales lingering near the hatcheries, strange behavior for an animal that usually feeds on krill far out to see where it’s difficult to observe them.