By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Salmon Watch 2019 on Fauntleroy Creek closed Monday with a total of 19 coho spawners. A fish found October 17 amongst beach logs died at the creek mouth. The first live fish made its way into the spawning reach on October 21 – a day after the annual drumming to call them in.
Later that week, volunteer watchers spotted 30 robust fish schooling near the creek mouth, due south of the ferry pier in Fauntleroy Cove. At the same time, creek neighbor Mike Dey spotted sea grass choking the reach-to-the-beach channel and asked State Fish and Wildlife to assess the potential barrier. The agency secured the property owner’s permission for the Fauntleroy Watershed Council to remove it and the council called on Garden Cycles to do the job.
Prompted by the dead fish trapped by logs on his section of beach, Chuck Sawyer shifted them so they would no longer be a barrier for incoming spawners.
The 3-6 lb. fish came in daily until the last arrived on October 27. Only one pair are thought to have spawned and volunteers will monitor that location in mid winter to see if “home hatch” fry emerge from the gravel. The tally of 19 is one more than last year.
Visitors during this “silver anniversary” of spawning on the creek included 27 students from Taproot School, 67 people of all ages during an October 25 “open creek,” and another 31 area residents on other days.
“In my opinion, everyone who saw these spawners have a remarkable emergency effort to thank,” said long-time watcher Dennis Hinton. “From the watcher who saw spawners in distress to the team from Garden Cycles who dropped what they were doing to weed the channel and to the donors that made paying the bill possible from our stewardship fund, it came together like clockwork.”
Next up will be January delivery of eyed coho eggs from the Soos Creek Hatchery to West Seattle schools in the Salmon in the Schools program, for release as fry in May.