News & Stories

  • Chinook salmon return to Marin, coho shouldn't be too far behind

    December 4, 2013

    By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal, Dec. 4, 2013

    For the first time in five years, chinook salmon are being seen in the Lagunitas watershed — a hopeful sign that federally endangered coho salmon will have a strong run this winter.

    Chinook salmon — also known as king salmon — are not always spotted in Marin's creeks, but when they do appear they generally are accompanied by a strong run of coho.

    "What we have seen is that when resident coho populations do well, we see other species doing well," said Eric Ettlinger, aquatic ecologist for the Marin Municipal Water District.

    The chinook salmon are native to the Central Valley, but seem to have lost their way and ended up in Lagunitas Creek, Ettlinger said. It's possible that they were spawned in a hatchery and they don't know where home can be found. The chinook and coho salmon generally return to the streams in which they were born after returning from the ocean.

    "These may not have a strong homing instinct," Ettlinger said.

    Marin's chinook salmon numbers are not great — about 10 fish and eight fish nests have been spotted. Nonetheless it has been a pleasant surprise for those who manage the sensitive watershed.

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  • Scott River sees surge in Coho count

    November 29, 2013

    By David Smith, Nov. 29, 2013, Siskiyou Daily.

    A surge in Coho on the Scott River has bolstered this season's salmon run as two days pushed that river's count to one of the highest in three years.

    November 20 and 21 saw 315 and 366 Coho, respectively, pass the California Department of Fish and Wildlife video weir to bring the season's total to 722 as of Nov. 25. According to Sari Sommarstrom of the Scott River Water Trust, the pulse in Coho corresponded to a pulse in the Scott's flows after a recent rainstorm.

    The Chinook video count on the Scott was 3,048 on the 25th.

    On Bogus Creek, Nov. 20 saw 3,148 Chinook and 122 Coho. According to CDFW data, the two species' numbers are mostly consistent with recent years, excluding last year's atypical 11,193 Chinook run.

    For the Shasta, the Chinook count on Nov. 23 topped at 8,119 and 117 Coho.

    The data shows that across the three tributaries, last year's end of the run season was declared near the end of November. but other years show runs continuing well into December.

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  • New Study: Gulls Taking a Bite Out of Salmon Population

    November 25, 2013

    By Brad Kava, Santa Cruz Patch, Nov. 25, 2013

    Garbage dumps and the population of birds they attract may be the blame. A young steelhead salmon has about a 30 percent chance of being eaten by Western gulls during its transit to sea through creek mouths in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, according to a new study by California Sea Grant-funded researchers.

    Gauntlets of gulls lining narrow streams may consume anywhere from 7-83 percent of young steelhead in the Waddell, Scott and Gazos watershed mouths, according to the study found here.

    “We have thought of the ocean as this big dangerous place,” said Sean Hayes, a co-investigator on the Sea Grant project and a salmon ecologist at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “But, it may be that the last 200 or 300 meters of a river and estuary are the most dangerous. These fish are literally being scooped out right before they enter the ocean.”

    Ironically, the gulls may truly only be snacking on salmon, and feasting on trash. Tagging and tracking studies show the birds make frequent trips to the Santa Cruz landfill. This virtually endless supply of easily accessible human-waste food may be artificially increasing both gull populations and, by extension, opportunistic predation on young steelhead and salmon.

    “We see thousands of gulls at the landfill,” said Ann-Marie Osterback, the California Sea Grant graduate student trainee on the project and the lead author of the 2013 study.

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  • Nothing symbolizes “made in California” more than the iconic salmon

    November 24, 2013

    By Stephanie Taylor, Sacramento Bea, November 24, 2013

    Nothing symbolizes “made in California” more than the iconic salmon.

    Chinook salmon, born in inland watersheds, migrate to the sea to mature and return to where they were born, to reproduce. But their access to natural spawning grounds in the foothills and mountains is prevented by dams on most of California’s waterways. The salmon’s fight for survival on the American River exemplifies the consequences of man engineering nature.

    While Nimbus and Folsom dams provide hydroelectric power and flood control for us, they block miles and miles of habitat for salmon to lay and fertilize eggs. Man turned his attention to rescuing salmon as their populations declined. Completed in 1958, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery creates generations of salmon and steelhead. Here, migration ends and begins.

    When the fall run of chinook salmon returns, the hatchery erects a barricade across the river. Hundreds of people come to celebrate the heroism of these fish, to marvel at the wonder of nature. This year, thousands of salmon have fought their way back to fulfill their biological destiny. Against cascading water, salmon enthusiastically leap 20 levels of the fish ladder, in bubbly anticipation of spawning. These chinook are native but not wild.

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  • Shasta Coho count is second-highest in six years

    November 22, 2013

    By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News, Nov.22, 2013

    Adult salmon continue to return across the Klamath River’s Siskiyou tributaries as cold weather descends on the county.

    Shasta Chinook numbers had surpassed 8,000 at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife video weir by Nov. 13, bringing the total for the season so far to 8,097. Coho on the Shasta saw a large gain over the 10-day period between reports, bringing this year’s total to 80 adults – the second-highest Coho return on the Shasta in the past six years, according to CDFW weir data.

    Nearly 400 more Chinook returned to Bogus Creek by Nov. 6, bringing the year’s total to 3,121. Coho also saw a large increase, growing from one to 28 since the previous report. The data for Bogus shows that this year’s total, thus far, is the second-lowest Chinook return in the past nine years.

    The data for the Scott River still shows a slow return year, with 2,785 Chinook counted at the river mile 18 video weir by Nov. 12, along with seven Coho.

    Preliminary numbers up to Nov. 11 for the Trinity River show 1,942 Chinook trapped at the Trinity hatchery, along with 1,029 Coho.

    The trap weir located at Willow Creek has counted approximately 498 adult Chinook as of Nov. 11, and 272 Coho.

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