Juvenile Salmon Survey
In partnership with WSU Beach Watchers we are participating in a multiyear study to learn how juvenile salmon use the pocket estuaries and adjacent shoreline areas of Whidbey and Camano islands.
This research is performed by a specialized team of WSU Beach Watchers trained by scientists of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They use nets deployed from shore to seine juvenile salmon and other fish while also gathering data on water conditions. The team counts, identifies and measures each fish before releasing it back to the marine environment. They carry out this research in pocket estuaries and nearby shoreline areas of Island County in close collaboration with NOAA and the Skagit River Systems Cooperative (SRSC).
We provide the funding to support this team's staffing and equipment needs. MRC member Ken Urstad, who is also a Beach Watcher, is deeply involved and serves as our liaison to the survey team. The all-volunteer team has performed with such dedication and professionalism that in 2008, NOAA named two of its members, Jim Somers and Bob Buck, as NOAA Environmental Heroes.
In the past the team has seined at Elger Bay and English Boom County Park on Camano Island, and at Harrington and Race lagoons and Ala Spit on Whidbey Island. Currently they are gathering juvenile fish-use data at Cornet Bay on Whidbey Island in support of a joint habitat restoration project of the MRC and Deception Pass State Park. To learn more about this team's work, please see the studies listed below.
The seining team also has worked with the Wild Fish Conservancy on the west side of Whidbey Island and at the Cypress Island Aquatic Reserve in Skagit County. Most recently they have begun gathering fish-use data in support of a proposed restoration project at Dugualla Bay on Whidbey Island in cooperation with Whidbey Camano Land Trust, the SRSC and Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group.
Local fish-use studies began in 2002, limited at first to understanding how juvenile Chinook salmon use sites within Skagit Bay. Later, the study expanded to sites throughout the Whidbey Basin, Fidalgo Bay and Samish Bay under a cooperative effort funded in part by the NWSC.
The focus of the expanded research is to understand landscape-style patterns of fish usage including which species and life-history types use these systems; how connectivity or position within the larger landscape affects fish use, and how patterns of fish use relate to protection and restoration of these systems.