Annual Salmon Spawning Survey at Carkeek Park, data and tradition

2018 CWCAP survey crew (left to right): Tim (T.R.) Ricord, Lilli Hills, Alanna Sutton, Rick Henry (with male Chum salmon), Phil Kuhar, Matthew Kuhar, Spencer Fisco, Kat Krohn, Allison Bachner ; Carkeek Park, 11-24-18

Saturdays during the fall salmon run, a team of CWCAP citizen scientists collects data from salmon carcasses in the Piper’s and Venema Creeks, while another team systematically records live sighting and spawning activity data.  Each fall, CWCAP surveys each salmon carcass to determine whether fish are fully spawned, partially spawned, or not spawned at all (view salmon return numbers since 2014).  This is one measure of the heath of the adult salmon return. Through early-mid December, CWCAP will be conducting Saturday surveys (Nov 10, 17, 24, Dec 1, 8, 15) 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 several years.

Salmon carcasses are sampled for a variety of standard data measurements.

The following table summarizes the carcass and live results for Fall 2018.  For more details and survey results from 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, please visit the Salmon Spawning Surveys page.

CWCAP, UW Ecology, and SPU Salmon Stewards Celebrate Salmon on Nov 18, 2018

Yes, that’s a fish somewhere in the middle and Julie K. Combs, PhD, all the way to the right with UW BES 312 Ecology students filling the frame; Photo by Catherine Anstett; Carkeek Park, 11-18-18

The Carkeek Park community of all ages celebrated the annual Piper’s Creek Salmon Celebration on Sunday, November 18, 2018.  In addition to hot drinks, music, good food, and a kid-friendly scavenger hunt through the park, volunteer Salmon Stewards were on hand to welcome, engage, answer questions, and inspire park visitors drawn by the annual Piper’s Creek salmon run.

Another exciting activity involved  a field trip by 31 University of Washington students enrolled in a UW BES 312 Ecology course led by Julie K. Combs, PhD, Conservation Scientist/Ecological Consultant at UW.  Students were divided into 3 groups and rotated through 3 education stations that included:

1. Creek Walk lead by SPU‘s Allison Heisel and Anna Murphy, Salmon Stewards
Learning objectives and topics to explore: Learn fish life cycles and species present (Chum, Coho, Trout), storm water run/off and salmon health (e.g., pre-spawning mortality in Coho), examine different restoration features along the stream that enhance salmon habitat, make linkages to broader food webs e.g., what animals consume salmon (live or dead salmon), how do decomposing salmon bodies nourish other organisms, how do healthy salmon returns impact our southern resident Orca population (74 individuals as of Oct 2018), what does the monitoring data tell us about the success of returning runs?

2. Salmon Anatomy and Supplemental Stocking Systems lead by CWCAP‘s Rick Henry
Learning objectives and topics to explore: Part A. Salmon Anatomy & Systems: Swimming, Imprinting, Respiration-Pulmonary-Circulation, Digestion, Reproduction; Part B. Salmon Restoration, Action, Education, and Outreach: History of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Development, Stormwater & Sewage Conveyance, Local Salmon Extinction (1927), Clean Water Act of 1972, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project (1979), Community Action, Volunteerism & Partnerships, Creek restoration & salmon stocking, Imprinting salmon with off-channel Imprinting System, Salmon rearing, release & return, Surveys & Investigations, Education, Current status of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Future of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Drains & pipes, improvised ditches, SEA streets & green stormwater infrastructure.

3. Forest Ecology and Native Plants lead by UW professor, Julie Combs
Learning objectives and topics to explore: identify the dominate understory and overstory plant community in a Puget Sound Lowland Forest (Western Hemlock Zone), explore secondary succession at different stages, talk about different disturbance factors that influence successional patterns, examine how aspect and slope (i.e., north-facing vs. south-facing) influence plant community structure and assembly, investigate how forest health can enhance salmon habitat, discuss the many players in the food web in the Piper’s Creek Watershed (identify the primary producers, decomposers, consumers, secondary consumers etc.).