By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Salmon releases wrapped up in Fauntleroy Park with 75 fourth- and fifth-graders from Sanislo Elementary this morning. They were among 725 students from 16 West Seattle schools releasing about 1,800 coho fry into Fauntleroy Creek. An additional 315 adults and young siblings came on the 21 releases.
Fourteen schools received eyed eggs in January through the Salmon in the Schools program and volunteer Jack Lawless reared another 500 for the Fauntleroy Watershed Council to offer to two preschools and an elementary that lost most of its fish during a power outage.
The council has about 100 fry left and invites anyone who would like to put a fish in the water to a community salmon release on Saturday, June 8, 1:00-3:00 pm at the big bridge in Fauntleroy Park:
Volunteers will be on hand to talk salmon, habitat, and stewardship.
Volunteers Dennis Hinton (above), Pete Draughon, and Shannon Ninburg dipped fish, looked out for safety, and guided students in exploring native habitat in the park. Peggy Cummings and Mark Ahlness were on-call exploration volunteers. Many of the students also had lunch and a Q&A session in the lower creek with project coordinators Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland.
The fry will use their year in fresh water to grow into fingerlings and then smolts. Those that survive will leave the creek next spring for their two years in saltwater before the survivors return to spawn.
Since 2003, volunteers have been documenting smolt survival by briefly trapping them as they leave the park and reaches downstream of there. Between March 15 and May 26 this year, 22 smolts left for saltwater – half last year’s total. After a preliminary assessment by volunteers, the watershed council called on city and state specialists to help determine why only four of those smolts exited Fauntleroy Park.