A lot of weather people came out to Carkeek Park Saturday, May 13th — in the rain of course — to wish almost 5,500 school-raised fish a safe journey down Venema Creek to Piper’s Creek, to Puget Sound, and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. Each of these well cared for fish has a chance now to return to these home waters to spawn in 3 to 5 years since they’ve been imprinting in fresh Venema Creek water for 3 weeks or more!
In fact, 108 parents, teachers, and kids brought well-wishing anticipation for the moments when these plump and frisky fish would be free to continue their fascinating and challenging life cycle.
For CWCAP, this release represented our 4th release – 4 different batches of Chum salmon were raised, fed, and imprinted by CWCAP Imprint Stewards between January 5th and May 13th, 2017. This long-term commitment from 21 amazing volunteers and the organizations that support these programs have been happening for decades.
Let’s have a brief look at how this Spring’s efforts by so many culminated in the release of *97,472 Chum salmon.
On January 5, 2017 the Suquamish Tribe’s Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery provided 30,000 Chum salmon eggs to CWCAP‘s salmon program. These fish matured, imprinted, and self-released from their incubation tanks and therefore did not require feeding. These fish represent our 1st self-release of the imprinting season in mid-to-late March.
Also on January 5, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery provided more than 6,384 Chum salmon eggs to 28 local public and private schools in the Salmon in the School – Seattle program. These fish were raised, fed and studied for 3 months in 55 gallon chilled aquariums at each school. These fish represent CWCAP‘s final, 4th release of the imprinting season on May 13.
On January 30, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery delivered 35,000 Chum salmon fry to CWCAP‘s salmon program. These fish were raised and fed 3 times a day, 7 days a week for 33 days by 21 CWCAP Imprint Stewards while they were imprinting to Venema Creek’s water in the Piper’s Creek Watershed. These fish represent our 2nd release of the imprinting season on March 4.
On March 6, 2017, Grover’s Creek Salmon Hatchery delivered 32,500 Chum salmon fry to CWCAP‘s salmon program. These fish were raised and fed 3 times a day, 7 days a week for 19 days by 21 CWCAP Imprint Stewards while they were imprinting to Venema Creek’s water in the Piper’s Creek Watershed. These fish represent our 3rd release of the imprinting season on March 25.
Beginning on March 27, the first 2 schools out of 28 started bringing their fish to be added to the Les Malmgren Imprint Pond to be fed and imprinted by CWCAP Imprint Stewards.
By April 20, all 28 schools delivered a total of 5,273 salmon fry to the imprint pond at Carkeek Park, representing an 83% survival outcome! They joined the fish that had been delivered nearly every weekday since March 27. Imprinting time was from an early 40 days for fish delivered on March 27 to 23 days for fish delivered on April 20.
These 28 schools that raised Chum salmon from eggs to fry are a part of a larger Salmon in the Schools – Seattle program that serves nearly 75 public and private schools in the Seattle area. For the 2017 imprinting season, 28 schools raised Chum salmon and delivered their fish to the imprint pond at Carkeek Park while the remainder of the schools in the area raised Coho or Chinook salmon and released their fish in regional creeks and Lake Washington.
Salmon in the Schools – Seattle (sisseattle.org) is staffed by community educators and technical experts in local salmon, water quality, and watershed educational programming. SIS-Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, and private schools are generously supported by the Seattle Public Utilities Urban Watershed Outreach & Education group. SPS provides funding for technical support, school equipment, school field trip transportation, and education programming throughout the city in support of the Salmon in the Schools program.
* Number is adjusted for all mortalities incurred over entire 2017 imprinting season.