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'The Onion' explains Alaska's disastrous king salmon runs: Obesity

Alaska Dispatch
Aaron Jansen illustration

Just days after Alaska's Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development announced that last summer's disastrous king salmon returns were even worse than first estimated, The Onion -- "America's Finest News Source" -- published an in-depth look at the root of the problem.

The satirical news publication learned that the diminishing return of Alaska's king salmon in recent years is due to, well, the fishes' waistlines ... or lack thereof. The Onion sat down with one "severely obese chinook" to understand the apparent crash:

After repeatedly gorging itself on marine sea life for more than seven years, a severely obese chinook salmon told reporters Wednesday he had grown too overweight to swim upstream and reproduce.

The fat salmon, who remains unnamed, said:

“I used to be able to swim hundreds of miles to my natal stream. But now I’m so fat I can’t even leap out of the water to overcome a natural obstacle. And when I try, my fins are super sore for a couple days. Could you give me a second? I need to rest until this stitch in my side goes away."

The unnamed salmon claims that he "tries" to swim everyday, but The Onion talked with sources close to the fish who say he puts "minimal effort" into his diet and exercise routine and often engages in "binge-eating and late-night snacking on crustaceans." The source adds that the fish doesn't even try to "remain attractive to spawning female salmon," adding to his overall failure as a living being.

The Onion writes:

In years prior, before reaching his current body mass, the salmon would have traveled more than 900 miles upstream; today, however, the fish’s frame is so encumbered by excess weight that he becomes winded after a few minutes of wagging his caudal fin in the water.

For more on how obesity is threatening the very survival of salmon, read the Onion's story here.