Salmon at Carkeek Park
2017 – a year in review

2017 began with the natural and exciting imperative to build from the passing of Nancy Malmgren and Bill Hagen at the end of 2016.  Their visions, leadership, and successes are the near magic from which so much has sprouted and continues to bloom.  Thank you, Nancy and Bill, so very much.

January 5, 2017: The year of salmon at Carkeek Park always begins with our friends at the Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery.  The Suquamish Tribe manages the hatchery at Grover’s Creek.  Millions of Chinook, Coho, and Chum salmon are distributed around the region each year.  Annually, we visit the hatchery and bring back 20-30,000 Chum salmon eggs.  This year, we brought back about 30,000 fertilized eggs.  In our care, these fertilized eggs developed into alevin, absorbed their egg/yolk sacs over time, and emerged as small fry in their incubation tanks.  By the end of March,  they were gone, having self-released into Venema Creek by way of their outflow pipe at the top of their tanks.  Think of a slide to the ride of their lives right into the creek whose waters they have been growing in since early January!

Also on January 5, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery provided more than 6,384 Chum salmon eggs to 28 local public and private schools in the Salmon in the School – Seattle program. These fish were raised, fed and studied for 3 months in 55 gallon chilled aquariums at each school. These fish represent CWCAP‘s final, 4th release of the imprinting season on May 13.

On January 30, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery delivered 35,000 Chum salmon fry to CWCAP‘s salmon program. These fish were raised and fed 3 times a day, 7 days a week for 33 days by 21 CWCAP Imprint Stewards while they were imprinting to Venema Creek’s water in the Piper’s Creek Watershed. These fish represent our 2nd release of the imprinting season on March 4.

On March 6, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery delivered 32,500 Chum salmon fry to CWCAP‘s salmon program. These fish were raised and fed 3 times a day, 7 days a week for 19 days by 21 CWCAP Imprint Stewards while they were imprinting to Venema Creek’s water in the Piper’s Creek Watershed. These fish represent our 3rd release of the imprinting season on March 25.

Beginning on March 27, the first 2 schools out of 28 started bringing their fish to be added to the Les Malmgren Imprint Pond to be fed and imprinted by CWCAP Imprint Stewards. By April 20, all 28 schools delivered a total of 5,273 salmon fry to the imprint pond at Carkeek Park, representing an 83% survival outcome! They joined the fish that had been delivered nearly every weekday since March 27. Imprinting time was from an early 40 days for fish delivered on March 27 to 23 days for fish delivered on April 20.

These 28 schools that raised Chum salmon from eggs to fry are a part of the larger Salmon in the Schools – Seattle program that serves nearly 75 public and private schools in the Seattle area. For the 2017 imprinting season, 28 schools raised Chum salmon and delivered their fish to the imprint pond at Carkeek Park while the remainder of the schools in the area raised Coho or Chinook salmon and released their fish in regional creeks and Lake Washington.

Salmon in the Schools – Seattle (SISseattle.org) is staffed by community educators and technical experts in local salmon, water quality, and watershed educational programming.  SIS-Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, and private schools are generously supported by the Seattle Public Utilities Urban Watershed Outreach & Education group.  SPS provides funding for technical support, school equipment, school field trip transportation, and education programming throughout the city in support of the Salmon in the Schools program.

Summer 2017 is, among everything else, the time that we monitor the water that percolates down from the upper watershed that gives its name to the Piper’s Creek Watershed.  Salmon are on their way to the ocean, others are already feeding there from past outward migrations, and many other fish are wandering their way back to their home waters.

October 2017 saw some early Chum and incidental Coho returns by about October 19.  After a couple of weeks of relatively sparse migration into the creeks, salmon began returning in earnest in the beginning of the 2nd week of November.  That is our signal to launch the Annual Spawning Survey.

Each Fall, CWCAP enters the creeks and tributaries in the Pipers Creek Watershed to collect spawning data from the salmon that naturally die after returning to their home waters. The primary objective is to determine the relative spawning success of salmon in Piper’s Creek and its largest tributary, Venema Creek. Spawning success over time is one measure of the health of the salmon run and the health of the creeks.   Here are the numbers for 2014, 15, 16, and 17.

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