The new year brings the beginning and the continuation of the salmon life cycle to Carkeek Park. Salmon of many species around the region cycle similarly and differently. For Chum salmon in the Piper’s Creek system, we join them once again in January as salmon eggs arrive here at the park and at many Seattle schools.
Here’s what’s happening:
January 9, 2019
CWCAP picked up 30,000 eyed (fertilized) Chum salmon eggs at the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery. This 1st batch marks the official launch of the 2019 Imprinting Season.
Eggs will hatch, develop and then self-release by about mid-March. Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery also provided about 220 Chum salmon eggs each to about 2 dozen local public and private schools participating in the Salmon in the Schools — Seattle program.
End of January, 2019
Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery staff will deliver 35,000 free-swimming Chum salmon fry to the Imprint Pond. The Suquamish have provided salmon fry to CWCAP and the Piper’s Creek system since 2004.
This will continue the annual Imprinting Season as 21 CWCAP volunteers provide public and educational access 3 times per day, 7 days per week to these maturing salmon. We keep salmon in several batches through mid-May.
Please feel welcome to visit, feed the salmon, and share a good fish story. Salmon Imprint Stewards will be there to positively add to your experience.
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.).