albinism

How to Stand Out in a Crowd

Have you ever thought you were doing something or wearing something that made you stand out in a crowd? We counted our salmon affected by albinism (check out our previous latest news), and found 21 Coho Salmon that were all affected by this genetic mutation. If you do the math, that comes out to about 0.03% of our total coho population. As you can see, albinism isn’t a widespread phenomenon, but it is a cool teaching opportunity!

Genetic mutation is one part of the machinery that evolution operates off of. If a mutation enhances an individual’s survival rate, it is able to pass those genes to its offspring. In the case of albinism in our coho, they have a much lower chance of survival than coho with darker pigments since they can blend in with their environment. Most likely, coho affected by albinism won’t get the chance to reproduce. But they still serve a very useful role in capturing an observer’s interest, and sometimes that’s all you need to get them excited about salmon!

A well-known example of a successful genetic mutation that has passed on in humans is lactase persistence. This is where human can consume dairy products even in their adulthood. Due to positive selection in this phenomenon, varying populations around the world now have this trait. We don’t see albinism in coho because of strong negative selection.

After we counted them, they were quickly put back with their other coho friends. Thank you for reading!