Volunteers conduct juvenile salmon seining research at Harrington Lagoon on Whidbey Island. Photo: Pedersen
Juvenile Salmon Survey

Juvenile Salmon Survey

In partnership with WRIA 6 Lead Entity and Sound Water Stewards, 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 volunteers trained by scientists of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Volunteers 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).

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.

 The current focus of the seining team is at the restoration project at Cornet Bay. The team has been gathering data on juvenile fish use there for 4 years pre-restoration (2009-2012) and 4 years post-restoration (2013-2016). The report on the 8 years of seining is available below, as well as each yearly report:

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. To learn more about these projects, 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.

WSU Beach Watchers conduct a juvenile salmon seining research at Harrington Lagoon on Whidbey Island. Photo: Pederson
Juvenile Salmon Survey