Salmon Fry Rearing

Watch for "Feeding Salmon Fry" sign.
Follow the Salmon to Sound Trail at the 1st crosswalk as you enter the park from the Main Entrance. The Feeding Salmon Fry sign is present when staff are present at the Imprint Pond.

Fry delivery from Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Hatchery

Chum salmon fry are delivered each year to Carkeek Park by the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery. The hatchery raises large numbers of Chum salmon (as well as Coho and Chinook salmon) which are used for stock supplementation in the region. 

Hatchery technicians transfer thousands of fry from either incubation trays or tanks to the specialized tank mounted in the bed of a large hatchery struck.  Often the fry have never eaten by mouth or swam in a current before arriving at the Imprint Pond at Carkeek Park.  By ferry from Kingston to Edmonds, the hatchery truck arrives at Carkeek Park and drains the hatchery tank directly into the Imprint Pond. 

Late-January to mid-February

After the delivery of salmon eggs in early January, 30-35,000 fry are delivered to the Imprint Pond in late-January to mid-February depending on seasonal variations in the Grovers Creek salmon returns and hatchery schedules.

Early to mid-March

The 2nd delivery of 30-35,000 fry occurs a few days after the release of the 1st batch depending on the schedule at Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery. Just before the 2nd delivery of fish arrives, the Imprint Pond is shut down, thoroughly cleaned, and started up again in preparation for new fish.

End of March to early April: SIS School Fish Move to the Imprint Pond

20-30 local elementary public and private schools that receive Chum salmon eggs in early January bring their fish fry to the Imprint Pond to be imprinted. In addition to delivering their fish for imprinting, these fields trips include park-wide hands-on activities around their school curriculum. SIS school fish are fed while imprinting for about a month by the same CWCAP volunteers who have been feeding/imprinting tens of thousands of fry since late-January to mid-February. Imprinting ensures that the fish are well fed and conditioned to remember Venema Creek and the Piper’s Creek system so that they are able to return to this system in 3-5 years as adults.

Salmon Imprint Stewards

Salmon Imprint Stewards are the CWCAP volunteers trained and committed to feeding, imprinting, and otherwise maintaining the system that the salmon fry thrive in while they are with us at the Carkeek Park. These volunteers are a great source of knowledge and anecdotes, as well as enthusiasm and caring for Carkeek Park. Twenty-one CWCAP volunteers perform a number of tasks during each Morning, Mid-day, and Evening —3 times per day, 7 days per week— during the approximately 3 months when there are fish in the Imprint Pond.

Fry Feeding and Imprinting

Since these fry were raised from eggs collected from fish in Grovers Creek, they are imprinted at the Imprint Pond for up-to a month to ensure that they memorize the smell —the chemical and mineral signature— of Venema Creek. Through imprinting, Venema Creek becomes their home waters rather than Grovers Creek. Adult salmon return to Piper’s Creek because they are imprinted as fry in Venema Creek waters, a tributary of Piper’s Creek. While the salmon fry are in the Imprint Pond, they are fed 3 times per day, 7 days per week using Salmon Imprint Steward procedures. This requires 21 feeding slots per week on the Salmon Imprint Pond Schedule.

Park Visitors

In addition to feeding the salmon fry, volunteers are trained to engage park visitors in salmon life cycle, park history, and Piper’s Creek Watershed and water quality topics. Park visitors are welcomed to feed the salmon fry, ask questions, and tell their own fish stories! Watch for Salmon Feeding signs that indicate when volunteer Imprint Stewards are available. Groups, classrooms, and organizations are welcome to schedule dedicated time at the Imprint Pond with a Salmon Imprint Steward. Use the Comment section to leave a reply.

2 thoughts on “Salmon Fry Rearing”

  1. Patricia Kennedy

    Hello, I’m from Lakeside Middle School and I’m interested in bringing students to your facility! Can you let me know what types of things the students can do or learn about on-site? We will be spending the entire day at Carkeek on April 18th.

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