By Dennis Hinton and Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
The annual salmon watch on Fauntleroy Creek began on October 29, the morning after the drumming to call in the coho, and that very day, salmon watchers documented the first six to do so.
By Sunday (November 18), when the watch ended, 18 had taken advantage of favorable tides, ample rainfall, and ideal habitat conditions to made their way into the lower creek – the most in four years.
The spawners were all vigorous and three pairs are thought to have left fertilized eggs to germinate in the creek. Four were “jack” salmon – small males that returned to fresh water after one year instead of the usual two in salt water. Full-sized spawners ranged up to 6 pounds. Most were released as smolts by hatcheries (as identified by missing adipose fins) but at least two could have originated in the creek as Salmon in the Schools release fish.
Nearly 100 students from two area schools came in hopes of seeing fish living or dead. Two “open creeks” drew 120 people and another 120 stopped by to chat with one of the 16 volunteers who took turns watching. Ferry foot passengers even got in on the action, cheering fish navigating through drift logs to enter the creek from Fauntleroy Cove.
Next up for local volunteers will be distributing eyed eggs in early January to 14 West Seattle schools for students to rear and release as fry in May. They will be among 70 schools citywide to rear coho, chum, or Chinook through the Salmon in the Schools program.
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