First Report of a Sea Louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, Infestation on Juvenile Pink Salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, in Nearshore Habitat


  • Alexandra B. Morton Raincoast Research, Simoom Sound, British Columbia, V0P 1S0
  • Rob Williams Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Lab, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, KY16 8LB



Pink Salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, Sea Lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, British Columbia, aquaculture, salmon farm


High infestation rates of the Sea Louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) have been reported on juvenile salmonids in Europe since 1989; however, this species has not been reported on juvenile Pacific salmonids until now. Magnitude of Sea Lice infestation was examined in 2001 on juvenile Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) migrating through a British Columbia archipelago. On average, the 751 juvenile Pink Salmon sampled weighed 2.25 g (± 0.039 SE), were infected with 11.3 (± 0.41 SE) Sea Lice per fish and 6.1 (± 0.24SE) Sea Lice per gram host weight. Fully 75.0% of fish were infected at loads equivalent to or higher than the lethal limit reported for much larger Sea Trout (Salmo trutta) post-smolts. Abundance (Kruskal-Wallis statistic = 100.95, p<0.0001) and intensity (KW= 70.05, p<0.0001) of lice, and mean number of lice/g host weight (K-W= 112.23, p<0.0001) were significantly higher in juvenile Pink Salmon in close proximity to salmon farms, than in Pink Salmon distant from salmon farms.