Why Alaskan Rivers Are Turning Orange and What it Means

Updated on:
Alaska Orange river

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Some rivers in Alaska’s Brooks Range have turned a bright orange color.

This is not normal and has made many people worried. Scientists are trying to figure out why this is happening and what it means for the environment and local communities.

Causes of the Orange Color

Orange river
The pronounced orange tint is visible from the air

Melting Permafrost

One main reason for the orange color is melting permafrost. Permafrost is ground that stays frozen all the time. It has many minerals and metals in it. When the permafrost melts because of warmer temperatures, these substances get into the rivers.

Mineral and Metal Leaching

When the permafrost melts, minerals and metals like iron get into the water. Iron turns orange when it mixes with oxygen and water, which is why the rivers look orange.

Geographical Context: The Brooks Range

The Brooks Range is a big mountain range in Alaska, located above the Arctic Circle. This area has rough terrain, many different ecosystems, and ground that is always frozen, called permafrost. The rivers from the Brooks Range are very important for the local wildlife and the people who live there.

Impact on Water Quality

The minerals and metals in the water change its chemical makeup. High levels of iron and other elements can make the water unsafe for drinking and harmful to fish and other animals.

The orange color also makes the rivers look dirty and unappealing. This can stop people from wanting to fish or boat in these waters.

Effects on Aquatic Life

The changes in water quality can hurt fish populations. Fish that are sensitive to changes in their environment may have trouble surviving, reproducing, and could even die.

The orange rivers also affect small animals and plants in the water. These creatures are important for the food chain, and any harm to them can affect the whole ecosystem.

Fly fishing fans have noticed that fish are acting differently in the orange rivers. Fish might be harder to find and catch because they change their feeding and living habits.

Fly fishermen need to change their techniques to catch fish in these conditions. This might mean using different flies, casting in new ways, and finding new fishing spots.

Impact on Local Communities

The orange water has definitely got locals talking with one residdent saying “It almost looks like its radioactive”.

Many indigenous communities in Alaska rely on fishing for food. The orange rivers make it harder for them to catch fish, which threatens their way of life.

The orange rivers can also make drinking water unsafe. Contaminants from the rivers can get into groundwater, posing health risks to local people.

Scientific Research and Findings

Scientists are studying the orange rivers to understand the problem better. They are looking at what minerals and metals are in the water and how much of them there are.

Future research will focus on finding ways to stop the permafrost from melting and cleaning the water. Scientists are looking for long-term solutions to this problem.

Government and Policy Response

The government is making stricter environmental rules to deal with the orange rivers. These rules aim to reduce pollution, protect permafrost areas, and keep water safe.

Programs are being set up to help affected communities. These programs provide clean water, health checks, and financial help for people who rely on fishing.

Mitigation and Remediation Efforts

Strategies are being developed to stop the spread of contaminants. This includes building barriers to isolate affected areas and using filters to clean the water.

Projects are underway to restore the affected rivers and ecosystems. This involves planting new vegetation, fixing water flow patterns, and bringing back native species.

Shop where we do: Bass Pro

Grab a Bass Pro special
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Photo of author
Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x