Annual Salmon Spawning Survey kicks off at Carkeek Park

Select image to enlarge.On Saturday, November 10, 2018, CWCAP citizen scientists collected data from salmon carcasses in the Piper’s Creek Watershed.  Each fall (view salmon return numbers since 2014), CWCAP surveys each carcass to determine whether fish are fully spawned, partially spawned, or not spawned at all.  This is one measure of the heath of the adult salmon return. Through early-mid December, CWCAP will be conducting Saturday surveys until no more un-sampled salmon carcasses are found.  Around Thanksgiving time has been within a few days of the actual peak of live activity for at least the last 5 years.

The following table summarizes the results from our first survey day.

  • Of the 20 Coho sampled, 7 were remnants and could not reliably be sexed. Of the 13 Coho that were sexed, all were females. Of the 13 females, 7 were partially or fully spawned.  Of those 7, 2 Coho appeared to be fully spawned.  All Coho where the caudal region was intact were clipped hatchery fish.
  • Storm water flow rate: it is known that extreme energy and water volume associated with storm water moves dead adult salmon from the system to Puget Sound.  Fish flushed from the system cannot be estimated and are not represented in this data.
  • Predators/Scavengers: many salmon carcasses are found each Fall in the brush and wooded areas near the creeks.  Without a comprehensive search, it is likely that the survey team misses numerous carcasses during surveys due to predators and/or scavengers that drag salmon from the near-creek vicinity and are therefore not represented in the data.
  • This data represents all fish encountered and processed that have already died after entering Piper’s Creek and Venema Creek. Each Chum salmon dies in more or less 10 days after entering Pipers Creek’s freshwater, whether spawned or not. Since this survey opens each dead fish by incision along the belly to examine its relative spawning success, we can be certain that fish haven’t been double-counted from one week to another.
  • * Resident cutthroat trout (O. clarkii) are not part of the current survey design. The methods used in this survey do not accurately sample for the presence of resident cutthroat trout, but numbers are listed here as incidental information only.
  • Fish are sampled from dead carcasses taken from Pipers Creek and Venema Creek and returned to sample location.

Salmon return! Late October, NOVEMBER, early December

Male Chum salmon, 33 inches in length. This is the 1st sighting of the fall run in Piper’s Creek, found dead and scavenged; 10-27-18

Salmon are returning to Carkeek Park!  Like old friends, park visitors are walking the trails with keen eyes and ears to find fish returning to their home waters.

Students on field trips to Carkeek Park on Monday, October 29, 2018 from St. George and Thornton Creek Elementary Schools observed a few early Coho salmon during one of their three educational activities, the Interpretive Creek Walk.  These are 2 of 34 schools participating in this fall’s Salmon Search program at Carkeek Park.  Other schools and organizations are also visiting every day.

Students on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 from Gatewood and West Woodland Elementary Schools observed a female Coho salmon turning on her side and digging a nest (redd) during one of their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Another Coho was periodically seen beside the female in mating position during brief encounters.

Students on Thursday, November 1, 2018 from Kimball and Queen Anne Elementary Schools observed paired male and female Coho salmon in at least three different locations during their Interpretive Creek Walks.

Male Coho spawner provided by FISH for use in salmon dissection activity; 11-2-18

Students on Friday, November 2, 2018 from Green Lake Elementary School observed Coho salmon in Piper’s Creek during their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Schools in the Salmon Search program also participate in Salmon Dissection/Anatomy and Salmon Ecosystem Simulation activities.  Coho salmon are provided each year by Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH).  Friday’s fish was not only quite large, but had a fantastically developed kype (hooked jaws found in the spawning form of male salmon and female spawners to a lesser degree).

Students on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 from Concord Elementary School were able to observe Chum salmon in Piper’s Creek during their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Chum salmon is the primary salmon species in the Piper’s Creek system and their numbers will increase steadily into November.  On Tuesday, Concord students were able to observer nearly a dozen Chum salmon in several locations.

We’re hoping for rain to bring our expected Chum salmon into Piper’s Creek.  Rain increases the flow of water from the Pipers Creek Watershed to Puget Sound and attracts fish that were reared in these waters in past years by the CWCAP stocking and education programs.

Historically, the 2nd and 3rd weeks of November have seen peaks of salmon numbers and spawning activity in the Piper’s Creek system, with increasing numbers before this and diminishing numbers after this.  Thanksgiving has been within a few days of the actual peak of live activity for at least the last 5 years.  

Here’s a short history of first sightings in the park over the past four years: October 27, 2018; October 19, 2017; October 27, 2016; October 26, 2015

Select here for a Salmon Return summary for the past 4 years:
CarkeekWatershed.org/salmon-return/