Calling all salmon enthusiasts! Puget Soundkeeper is searching for dedicated volunteers to survey coho salmon returning to Longfellow Creek in West Seattle starting October 18th, 2021!
Through surveying, you will gain scientific fieldwork experience, witness one of nature’s most amazing migrations, and help our community protect one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic species (the coho salmon). The data we collect will help us understand the effects of toxic runoff on coho salmon and determine the best methods to protect them in the future!
What will you be doing?
- Training: First, you will complete a virtual webinar training on October 5th from 5 – 6 pm. A link to this training will be emailed to you once you have registered. If you cannot make it, the training will be recorded.
- Surveying: Starting the week of October 18th, you will survey Longfellow Creek for salmon and their carcasses once a week. Surveys should take approximately 1-2 hours to complete. Volunteers will be divided into teams of 2-3 people and assigned a weekday to conduct their survey.
Are there any requirements for volunteers?
Yes, besides committing to surveying salmon once a week through the end of spawning season, you need to be:
- At least 18 years old.
- Masks are required when social distancing isn’t feasible.
- Comfortable with handling fish carcasses (with gloves) and dissecting female salmon to check for eggs.
- In good physical condition. Surveying in Longfellow Creek requires climbing up and down steep muddy embankments and wading through shallow water on uneven terrain.
- Comfortable conducting surveys 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 also 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!
Why is this important?
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 these urbanized waterways, they encounter a chemical cocktail of toxic runoff from roadways and other paved surfaces. These chemicals severely disorient adult coho, causing the salmon to die before reproducing (also known as“pre-spawn mortality” or “Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome”).
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. Tracking the number of salmon that return to Longfellow Creek every year and the pre-spawn mortality rate are great indicators of the health of our local waterways.
Contact Gillian at Gillian@pugetsoundkeeper.org with any questions.