West Seattle wildlife: Fauntleroy Creek intruder

While salmon-watchers along Fauntleroy Creek watch for the next arrival of live fish – the ones who’ve visited so far are doing what come naturally – including dying. But while visiting the creek this morning, we learned from Dave McCoy of Emerald Water Anglers that the one you see above wasn’t a coho after all – but a blackmouth chinook. “Hatchery fish trying to get up here and mix it up with the wild ones,” he explained. We caught up with him, Denny Hinton and Judy Pickens while a class from the Providence Mount St. Vincent Intergenerational Center was getting a lesson about salmon – including the chinook carcass – and then a presentation from Judy (in the background):

Denny and Dave then headed off to check out a report of fish near the creek mouth on Fauntleroy Cove.
(Added Judy in e-mail after we first published this story: “Fauntleroy is a coho creek, so having this type of chinook (king) come in is a first. Instead of migrating to the ocean, blackmouth stay in Puget Sound all year and their black gum line is the reason for their name. This fish was under five pounds – small for the species – and it had no adipose fin, indicating that it originated in a hatchery.” She says the carcass “was returned to the creek where its nutrients will benefit the next generation” and adds an update on this year’s watch: “After several days of no fish, this year’s salmon watchers went home, having documented a total of 18 fish. But more were spotted this morning near the mouth and, with especially high tides through the weekend, spawning season may not be over!”) Great day to be out by the creek, despite the fairly heavy rain – and nearby streets are resembling creeks, like upper Fauntleroy Way north of the salmon overlook:

By the way, the wind advisory is still up, till midnight, and the forecast suggests it may kick up again before then.

5 Replies to "West Seattle wildlife: Fauntleroy Creek intruder"

  • frustrated parent x2 November 19, 2009 (1:26 pm)

    thanks for the update about one of our local creeks!
    west seattle/ seattle needs more places like the intergenerational learning center. the wait list has been “too full”/ closed since I was 3 months pregnant.
    my kid will be old enough for elem. school before I know it.

  • marty November 19, 2009 (1:34 pm)

    I was involved with planting chinook and coho in this creek in the early 1980’s. Unfortunately at that time the fish could not get upstream from the mouth of the creek so no spawners could return. It’s good to see salmon returning!

  • Oliver November 19, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    The Mount/Intergenerational Learning Center kids had a great time on our field trip today. Judy was a great host, who we found thanks to the WSB! So, many thanks to Judy and WSB for making htis educational opportunity happen!
    -Mt. Parent

  • marty November 19, 2009 (6:12 pm)

    I must disagree with this fish being described as a “blackmouth chinook”. Blackmouth are sexually immature and the carcass displays full spawning color which indicates it is more likely a “jack chinook”. Jacks mature sexually a year (sometimes two) early, which explains why it is small in size for a chinook returning to a spawning stream. The number of jacks returning to a spawning system is often used by fisheries department personnel to predict the number of spawning fish returning in subsequent seasons.

  • WSB November 19, 2009 (6:59 pm)

    Thanks, Marty. Also Judy sent some info this afternoon that I haven’t added yet, about another expert thinking it still might have been a coho … will be adding that postscript … TR

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