Salmon Survey

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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.

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/