Puget Soundkeeper is searching for dedicated volunteers to survey the coho salmon that return to Longfellow Creek in West Seattle.
During the salmon run each fall, a population of coho salmon enters the Duwamish River from Elliott Bay, and then swims up Longfellow Creek to spawn. As coho migrate through urbanized waterways like Longfellow, they encounter a chemical cocktail of toxic runoff from roadways and other paved surfaces. These chemicals severely disorient adult coho and result in “pre-spawn mortality” or “Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome” in many individuals, meaning the salmon die before reproducing.
Previous surveys conducted by the City of Seattle and NOAA on Longfellow Creek have found pre-spawn mortality rates of up to 90% amongst females, an alarmingly high statistic. Examining the number of salmon that return to Longfellow Creek every year and documenting the pre-spawn mortality rate are great indicators of the health of our local waterways.
Data gathered from these surveys shared with NOAA, the City of Seattle, Department of Fish and Wildlife and King County.
This year will look a bit different, with updated safety protocols due to COVID-19, including a virtual webinar training. This webinar will be on Tuesday, September 29th from 5:30-6:30pm. Once volunteers have registered, the link to the webinar registration will be emailed to you. If you cannot make it, the training will be recorded.
- The nature of this work is geared toward adults only.
- Surveying is a weekly commitment that takes approximately 1-2 hours to complete. The salmon run begins in mid-October and finishes mid-December, during which there will be a survey every day. Volunteers will be divided into teams of 2-3 people and assigned a weekday to conduct their survey.
- We’re looking for adventurous volunteers! Surveying requires handling fish carcasses found in the creek (with gloves) and dissecting the female salmon to check for eggs.
- Volunteers should be in good physical condition. Surveying in Longfellow Creek requires climbing up and down steep muddy embankments and wading through shallow water on uneven terrain.
- Surveying is conducted in varying weather conditions. If conditions are dangerous (e.g. a downpour), we will cancel on that day. Otherwise, we survey rain or shine.
- Volunteers should come prepared with their own waders and rain gear but surveying kits will be provided. If you don’t have your own gear please let us know and we can figure something out!
- Salmon surveys are a great way to observe one of nature’s most amazing migrations and experience scientific field work. The data we collect from these surveys help us understand the effects of toxic runoff on one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic species and determine the best methods to protect them in the future!
Contact Gillian at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.