Salmon Programs

1 comment

Based on public survey data compiled by Amanda Lee, Seattle Parks & Recreation, using WordItOut.

Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project (CWCAP) has actively worked to promote clean water and healthy salmon habitat in the Piper’s Creek Watershed since 1979.  Along side of this decades-long community success story has been the development of hands-on educational and community access to outdoor classrooms and salmon rearing in Carkeek Park.

Here are three key areas that CWCAP engages in every year with the support of the community, local business and agencies:

Salmon Imprinting – these essential programs are how and why adult salmon return to Pipers Creek each fall to spawn as adults!

Salmon Surveys  – one measure of success is determined by annual fall spawning surveys when we sample every adult fish that dies to determine whether these fish have spawned.  The spawning numbers are extraordinarily positive for a restored urban creek and gives optimism for other regional urban creeks.

Outdoor Classrooms – a generational, year-by-year, season-by-season partnership brings education, demonstration, and outreach to the community and to the region.  Generations of youth are now adults that return their stewardship to the community.   And this great work continues!

Let’s break down what’s going on here that makes it possible for salmon to return to Carkeek Park every year:

Salmon Egg and Fry Deliveries — Each Spring nearly 100,000 Chum salmon eggs and fry are provided to CWCAP by the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery. Spring deliveries between January and March generally arrive as follows:

1st Delivery → Early January

  • CWCAP staff travel to Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery to pick up fertilized, eyed Chum salmon eggs 
  • About 30,000 eggs are placed in Incubation/Self-release tanks
  • After hatching, alevin drop through tray mesh to the bottom of Incubation tanks; trays are removed
  • Egg/yolk sacs are absorbed in about 2 months
  • Free-swimming fry begin to rise, joining the outflow of water at the top of the tanks
  • Fry self-release gradually over a few weeks into Venema Creek by about the 3rd week of March
  • Fry make their way to the estuary off of Carkeek Beach in Puget Sound within about a week with the imprinted memory to return to these new home waters in 3-5 years to spawn

2nd Delivery → Late January to early February

  • 30-35,000 Chum salmon fry are released into the Imprint Pond by Suquamish hatchery technicians
  • For the first time, these fry learn to swim in a current and eat food by mouth
  • 21 lead and about 13 regular CWCAP Imprint Stewards feed salmon and engage park visitors for about a month, 3 times a day, 7 days a week
  • Fish imprint/memorize the chemical and mineral scent/smell of the water that flows through Pipers Creek Watershed
  • Fish are released in late February to early March with the imprinted memory to return to these new home waters in 3-5 years to spawn

3rd Delivery → Late February to early March

  • Another batch of 30-35,000 Chum salmon fry are released into the Imprint Pond by Suquamish hatchery technicians
  • Fish are fed and imprinted for about a month by CWCAP’s Imprint Steward staff
  • Signs are placed to invite park visitors to feed salmon, learn about salmon life cycles, storm water issues, and ways to help salmon survivability
  • CWCAP provides educational programs to various groups
  • Fish are released in late March with the imprinted memory to return to these new home waters in 3-5 years to spawn

4th Delivery (SIS school fish) → Late March – early April

  • 20+ schools in the Salmon in the Schools Program bring fish to the Imprint Pond for imprinting
  • School field trips participate in educational programming
  • Each student gets to add a cup of their small fish to the Imprint Pond
  • Salmon in the Schools programs (SISseattle.org) are supported by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) with help from:
    • Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (WFW)
    • Seattle Public Schools (SPS)
    • Suquamish Tribe, Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery
    • CWCAP feeds school fish until they are released in mid May with the imprinted memory to return to these new home waters in 3-5 years to spawn

Salmon Fry Releases

1st Release → Gradually over the month of March

  • Eggs that have hatched and developed into fry begin to self-release
  • By the end of March, all fry will have self-released into Venema Creek
  • Invitations to participating schools and the community results in about 50 well wishers
  • The drain in the imprint pond is opened and fish escape via drain pipe directly into Venema Creek
  • Fish will leave the freshwater system in 2-7 days for the estuary in the eel grass beds of Puget Sound

2nd Release → Late February to early March, typically, as it is getting dark

  • After feeding and imprinting for about one month, the fry are ready for release
  • To avoid visual predators, the fish are released as it is getting dark
  • Invitations to participating schools and the community results in about 75 well wishers
  • The drain in the imprint pond is opened and fish escape via drain pipe directly into Venema Creek
  • Fish will leave the freshwater system in 2-7 days for the estuary in the eel grass beds of Puget Sound

3rd Release → Late March to early April, typically, as it is getting dark

  • After feeding and imprinting for about one month, the fry are ready for release
  • To avoid visual predators, the fish are released as it is getting dark
  • Invitations to participating schools and the community results in 100+ well wishers
  • The drain in the imprint pond is opened and fish escape via drain pipe directly into Venema Creek
  • Fish will leave the freshwater system in 2-7 days for the estuary in the eel grass beds of Puget Sound

4th Release (SIS school fish) → Late April to mid-May, typically, as it is getting dark

  • School field trips are organized and transportation is funded by Seattle Public Utilities
  • School fish that are raised from eggs for 3 months are delivered during school field trips to Carkeek Park 
  • Educational programming is provided during these field trips by Seattle Public Utilities
  • After feeding and imprinting for about one month or longer, the fry are ready for release
  • To avoid visual predators, the fish are released as it is getting dark
  • Invitations to participating schools and the community results in 150+ well wishers
  • The drain in the imprint pond is opened and fish escape via drain pipe directly into Venema Creek
  • Fish will leave the freshwater system in 2-7 days for the estuary in the eel grass beds of Puget Sound

Adult Salmon ReturnRead about it…

Late October-early December, typically

  • Many activities are planned and implemented during this exciting time
  • World Water Monitoring Challenge (Clean Water Act celebration)
  • Salmon Spawning Survey on Saturdays
  • Salmon Stewards on Saturday and Sundays
  • Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards —Salmon Celebration
  • Salmon in the Schools (SISSalmon Search field trips during the salmon run

Future of Salmon in Piper’s Creek Watershed → Coming Soon

  • Education. Demonstration. Outreach.
  • Storm water and water quality management
  • Educational programming cooperation among community and agency stakeholders
  • Regional watershed cooperation among community and agency stakeholders

Salmon Imprinting System → Coming Soon

One thought on “Salmon Programs”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.