Much-improved conditions off the Oregon coast may signal a reprieve for Snake River and Columbia River salmon and steelhead that have endured a string of lean years in the northern Pacific Ocean.

River of Change

According to scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2021 posted the second-best ocean condition score across a 24-year dataset and was the best year on record in one key category — the density of northern copepods. The tiny, energy-rich organisms are packed with lipids and, when abundant, can cause an explosion of growth for dozens of species.