Biological Characterization: An Overview of Bristol, Nushagak, and Kvichak Bays; Essential Fish Habitat, Processes, and Species Assemblages
Essential Fish Habitat in Bristol Bay
This report summarizes our current understanding of Bristol Bay as Essential Fish Habitat for salmon at various life stages as well as for other species of marine invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals. As an ecosystem, the currently healthy habitat of the bay both supports and results from the interactions between natural processes and the presence and abundance of all five species of Pacific salmon. As a keystone species, Bristol Bay salmon facilitate energy and nutrient transport to and from the inner bay’s terrestrial watersheds and the marine ecosystems of the eastern Bering Sea. Outbound migrations of billions of salmon smolts provide nutrition to numerous trophic levels and marine species, and salmon returning in their adult phase provide a valuable nutrient source to marine mammals and subsidize watersheds in the form of salmon-derived nutrients.