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Looks like the eclipse is at it again. Not only did Monday’s solar event cause headaches across North America and disrupt an otherwise regular work day, but apparently the effects are even further reaching than we thought. Now, even the fish have been affected.

Cooke Aquaculture claimed that thousands of their farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from their Pacific-based pens in Victoria on Monday. And it’s all thanks to the high tides and currents caused by the eclipse — all of that water was supposedly a factor in why the nets holding the creatures broke.

However, according to the assistant director of the fish program for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ron Warren, tidal flows are tied to lunar cycles (not the actual eclipse) and are only one small factor in why the fish could have escaped. He told CBC News that with more than 1.3 million kilograms of fish within the waters, the weight itself could have been a large part of why these salmon escaped.

“A lot of fish, a lot of weight… certainly could have aided in the compromise of the structure itself,” he told the publication.

Okay, so a bunch of fish escaped into the Pacific ocean… why should we care? Well it’s important to note that these salmon are of the Atlantic variety, not Pacific. So they aren’t a natural part of the ecosystem, and now other fish — including chinook and steelhead trout — are in jeopardy. Foreign fish escaping into the waters like this can bring disease, plus they then join the competition for the same sorts of food. The idea of them escaping like this has long been an environmental concern.

Unfortunately Cooke Aquaculture can’t pinpoint how many thousands of their 305,000 fish escaped, but early estimates put the numbers at 4,000 to 5,000. Fisherman are now being encouraged to catch these fish, and the traditional laws against openly selling them have been suspended for the time being.

“Atlantic salmon, regardless of whether they have successful spawning, they’re competing [against wild fish] for the food source that’s there,” Warren added. “That’s a concern for us and we’re going to be monitoring the best we can.”

Sigh. Yet another reason to avoid farmed salmon in the future we suppose. Here’s hoping the situation is sorted out soon enough.

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