2023 Salmon Survey Results

The 2023 Salmon Survey is a wrap. We had typical return numbers for Carkeek Park but lower than usual spawning success. It’s time for a deep dive into the data we gathered this year. Thanks again to all volunteers who helped gather this data.

2023 Chum Total 10 Year Average Chum 10 Year Median Chum 2023 Coho Total 10 Year Average Coho 10 Year Median Coho
314 417 311 30 40 27
Note: yearly total = live fish + running total of dead fish

While the totals this year are lower than average those averages are boosted by the historically high runs the last two years. The totals this year are very close to the 10 year medians indicating a typical year for the salmon run at Carkeek.

As usual we see most of the Coho at the beginning of the season before their numbers drop off in early November. While there is a massive spike in live salmon between the 11/4 and 11/7 surveys the true difference is likely exaggerated. There was a significant rain event during the 11/4 survey which reduced our ability to count live salmon. By November 25th we were seeing more carcasses than live fish. The spawning season was over a week later.

While we saw a solid return we never approached the concurrent numbers we saw the last two historically high runs. The run peaked at the 11/14 survey.

Note: These scatter plots are interactive. Locations are approximate and based on where the data recorder is standing. Not all entries will have location set. One note on comparing these figures is the 2022 markers represent a single fish while 2023 markers may represent more than one fish. Hover over a point on the 2023 map to see the Quantity may be greater than 1.

Salmon and redd distribution in 2023 was highly concentrated from 0 to 300 feet up Piper’s Creek. This is inconsistent with last year where the highest concentration of salmon and redds was between 1000 and 2000 feet up Piper’s Creek. This year a large beaver dam just past 300 feet prevented many of the salmon from reaching further up the stream until later in the season.

57% of chum had either partial or full spawning success compared to 82% last year. This 25% drop may be due to inaccessible spawning areas as well as fewer spawning partners. This is the lowest Chum spawning success rate we’ve seen since we started recording this metric in 2017. Only 13% of coho had any sort of spawning success granted the sample size is small (n=30). This is a 17% drop from last year. Coho typically have low spawning success in Carkeek park likely due to fewer spawning partners and higher levels of predation.

We saw higher predation numbers across the board this year with a 21% increase in Chum predation and 22% increase in Coho predation. Predation rates typically increase with less returning fish. Predators continue to favor Coho salmon over Chum.

Want more details or want to see previous years’ data? Check that out here.

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