The problems for adult salmon are minor, because they have an armor of scales to protect them. But if they are transferred to baby salmon, they can easily cause a fatal infection, leading to serious population problems in the group affected. Usually, the lice cannot jump from adult to offspring because of their life cycle, but in a salmon farm it is possible. This is one of the major obstacles in this type of farming.
For adult salmon in the wild, sea lice attach to the skin when possible, and feed off of it and any mucous membranes. They don’t typically cause major problems.
Sea lice are parasites that infest the skin of salmon and are able to kill thin-skinned juvenile fish. They therefore pose a huge threat to salmon fisheries and wild salmon species alike. Juvenile salmon usually remain close to the coast during their vulnerable stage which also means they are not overly exposed to sea lice which typically occur in deeper waters. The problem arises from the densely packed salmon farms in which populations of parasites explode affecting both adult and juvenile salmon; critics of aquaculture argue that unless salmon farms are moved or made water tight, they will ultimately destroy native populations of wild salmon.
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