Monthly Archives: November 2018

3 posts

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.). 

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/