Exploring Canning River

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Save a handful of perennial springs, the Canning River is frozen solid in winter.

Shublik Spring flows at the same volume and temperature (about 5.5ᵒC) all year, every year. Radio carbon dating indicates this ancient water was last exposed to the atmosphere 1,200 years ago. It emerges from the side of a mountain before flowing across tundra and dropping into the Canning River.

Shublik Spring in the fall

Explore the ancient waters and life found in and along Alaska's Canning River and the work being done to understand the importance of perennial springs for fish.

Getting there ultimately requires landing on a gravel bar across from camp.

Fish biologist prepares gillnet to catch & radio tag Dolly Varden. Tracking to their major overwintering areas will help document just how important limited year-round water is for these fish in a largely frozen winter landscape.

The tags are mostly battery, with a little bit of electronics in the top connected to a wire transmitter. They've been programmed to turn off during the winter while the fish are holed up in the open water influence of the springs. Conserving battery life will allow for three years of migration data collection. A radio station further downstream records tagged fish as they migrate towards sea in the spring and back upstream to spawn and overwinter in the fall.

A Dolly Varden waits to be tagged and released

Radio tagging a Dolly

A salmon-sized and flamboyantly-colored species of char aptly named Dolly Varden. Here's a pre-spawn male Canning River Dolly.

Arctic Grayling- Another species found in the Canning River that relies on a handful of perennial springs to survive the winter.

A muskox relaxing alongside the Canning River

Read more of the story Ancient Waters Give Fish Life https://medium.com/p/a562d0b3c968 More photos http://bit.ly/USFWSAlaskaPhotos Or Connect with us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/USFWS.AK.Fisheries.Habitat/

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