By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Spawning season on Fauntleroy Creek closed on Friday with a total of seven coho spotted by salmon watchers.
The season began several days earlier than in years past, near dusk on October 20. Five vigorous fish entered the spawning reach across Fauntleroy Way SW from the ferry terminal, but darkness fell before any redd-building or spawning could be observed.
No more arrived until a single male on November 5 and another single male the following day. The 50 area residents who took advantage of four hours of “open creek” that afternoon with salmon watchers got to see “Wally” lazing in the fish ladder.
Watchers gave him a name because he defied the spawn-and-die-within-24-hours pattern that has been the norm. A week after entering the creek, he still had the energy to make a run up the fish ladder and was visibly deteriorating when last seen last Monday (November 14).
“Seven spawners isn’t a lot but it’s seven more than last year,” noted veteran watcher Dennis Hinton, “and during our watch, nearly 70 people got to see these amazing fish close to home.”
The season’s robust return of coho to Puget Sound defied the state’s warning that not enough eggs would be available for this school year’s Salmon in the Schools program. Most of the 71 participating schools in Seattle rear coho – and will start doing so again in January. Thanks to the return, the Fauntleroy Watershed Council was able to freeze carcasses from the Soos Creek Hatchery so that many fourth- and fifth-graders in West Seattle can have a captivating lesson in biological systems during classroom dissections this winter.