By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Sixth-grade science students from Our Lady of Guadalupe School, with teacher Jackie Ellis, descended on lower Fauntleroy Creek this morning to do the annual stonefly exoskeleton count and learn about other research on the creek.
Stonefly larvae are a major food source for juvenile salmon and an indicator of water quality. This is the time of year they take wing, leaving their exoskeletons behind.
Teams counted a total of 42 exoskeletons on trees, bridges, fences, and the ground in the study area. Last yearâ€™s count, done nearly a month later, was 28. Torso size averaged a typical 4 cm.
Environmental analysts with Seattle Public Utilities were on hand to summarize the cityâ€™s ongoing bacteria study in the creek, which is monitoring electrical conductivity and temperature to help identify sources of water pollution.
â€śIn terms of what weâ€™re sampling, Fauntleroy Creek has some of the cleanest water in all of Seattleâ€™s urban creeks,â€ť analyst Chapin Pier said. â€śThis student research provides additional data, from another perspective.â€ť
Dennis Hinton and Pete Draughon told the class about the spring out-migration study thatâ€™s been going on since 2003. Using soft traps in the upper and lower creek, these volunteers have caught and released 18 smolts so far as they head to saltwater, compared to 15 this time last year. Monitoring will continue through May.
Next up on Fauntleroy Creek will be Salmon in the Schools releases involving at least 750 students. The first of 20 releases in Fauntleroy Park will be April 26.
The watershed councilâ€™s Fauntleroy Stewardship Fund has received $4,275 in donations since March 1 to enable timely work to keep this outdoor classroom safe for students and healthy for aquatic life. The fundâ€™s initial goal is $30,000.