(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
Never mind counting votes. That whiteboard holds the count that mattered the most in West Seattle this weekend – at Fauntleroy Creek. One week after the salmon-welcoming ceremony that included the then-sad news that only seven spawners had approached, and none had made it past a hungry otter – the turnabout is huge.
This is already the biggest season since spawners returned to the creek after a “fishway” replaced a culvert a decade-plus ago:
As of Sunday evening, reported creek steward/volunteer Judy Pickens (above, with visitors Mira Ellis, 3, and Peggy Rubens-Ellis), at least 238 spawners had been counted – exponentially more than the past few years, and by far beating the 2001 record of 167. Here’s what it’s all about:
Those are salmon eggs – the hope for the next generation. More of WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams‘ images from the creek this weekend, as the update continues ahead:
Though there’s no official public place to get up close and personal with the spawners, dozens of visitors found their way to the creekside, like Redwood Stephens and 3-year-old son Torin:
For onlookers, it’s mesmerizing. For the salmon, it’s a mission:
Among those observing again this season – volunteer biologist Steev Ward:
The season is not even half over so far, making the turnout all the more extraordinary compared to the previous two – 14 coho were counted in 2011, zero the year before.
Each spring, hundreds of students visit the creek to release fry they have raised at school – more than 2,600 fry last year. And throughout the year, there is volunteer work in the watershed to care for the habitat. One of the weekend visitors in the next photo reminds us how the creek and the nearby Sound are intertwined:
That’s Mark Sears, who among other things is known for researching Puget Sound’s resident orcas – who eat salmon. So no salmon, no orcas – though their trip to the creek puts these fish out of whales’ reach.
Salmon watch usually continues until Thanksgiving – early this year (November 22nd), but still more than 2 weeks away … and the tally continues.