Can Of Worms. Scientists Open Up Old Cans Of Alaska Salmon... And Find The Parasites They Hoped For

Looking For Worms In All The Right Places... 40 Year Old Cans Of Alaska Salmon  Salmon Can Display From Kenai Canneries In The Kasilof Museu...

Looking For Worms In All The Right Places...
40 Year Old Cans Of Alaska Salmon 

Salmon Can Display From Kenai Canneries In The Kasilof Museum. (Photo By Country Journal) 

April, 2024 

A group of four scientists from Washington State University and two from the Seafood Processor Association have just published a paper that revolves around opening old cans of salmon. Really old cans of salmon. Forty-year old cans of salmon. 

They weren't looking for botulism. They were looking for tiny worms, called nematodes. Nematodes are those little threadlike things that you find in salmon when you're chowing down your supper. 

Nematode (Wikipedia) 

The Washington scientists study nematodes. And they got curious about what's been happening with the little worms in salmon over the years. 

To find out, you need a baseline, so you can compare any changes. In other words, how many nematodes were in Alaska salmon several decades ago, and how many are in them now? 

This type of nematode, "anisakids" uses salmon as intermediate hosts in a life cycle that ends with marine mammals who eat the salmon. 

Canned Salmon Along With Home-Canned Bear In A Soldotna Museum. (Photo by Country Journal) 

To see whether the number of nematodes in salmon has changed over time, the scientists tapped into a source of old salmon in a big stack of fish cans – caught, canned, and cooked in Alaska canneries. 

The cans of 40-year old salmon came from the basement of the Seattle Seafood Products Association, which had collected the expired and unlabeled salmon and wanted to share.

Work Board In A Now-Demolished Kenai Salmon Cannery (Photo by Country Journal) 

The researchers examined canned chum, canned pinks, canned sockeye and canned cohos, some of which were processed as far back as 1979. 

They dissected the fillets and – amazingly – found what they were looking for. That same thing that can be somewhat aggravating when you're eating salmon: little cooked worms. 

Fresh Copper River Salmon With Eggs (Photo by Neil Hannan of Kenny Lake) 

They counted the number of worms per gram of salmon tissue. The number has increased in chum and pinks, but there in no change in sockeyes and cohos over the years, they discovered. 

Copper River Fishwheeler in Chitina Cuts Up Salmon By The River. (Photo by Country Journal) 

One of the researchers, Natalie Mastick, told the Country Journal she knew where the salmon they studied were canned, but not caught, and said they were "generally" from the Gulf of Alaska, Southeast and Bristol Bay,

If You Want To Read Their Report, Click Here: 

Note: This is scientific stuff. Some corrections and more specific insight has been added to this text. 


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