(By next spring, the small “fry” in this bucket will be as big as the “smolt”)
Following last week’s report about May salmon releases involving 560 students visiting Fauntleroy Creek, steward Judy Pickens has news that a record number of coho smolts (“teenagers”) have been counted as they headed for saltwater:
Between mid-March and early June, Dennis Hinton, Pete Draughton, Steev Ward, and Gail Cucksey checked upstream and downstream traps daily to document how many smolts were leaving for nearshore habitat in Fauntleroy Cove. This number is the best gauge of how healthy creek habitat is for juveniles, who spend a year in freshwater maturing into the size (3″-5″) they’ll need to survive in Puget Sound.
A total of 157 made it out this year. That’s more than 5 percent of the eggs reared for Fauntleroy Creek in 2011 through the Salmon in the Schools program. In the wild, survival from eggs to smolts is substantially less, so this is a positive stewardship story for students.
Last year, volunteers documented 147 smolts leaving the park but only 37 making it the three blocks downstream. For this reason, State Fish and Wildlife authorized carrying smolts caught in the upper trap downstream to improve survival.
The next big monitoring period comes this fall, when volunteers watch for mature coho returning to spawn.