Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘Salmon viewing’

It’s time to get out and watch the salmon

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

This year’s return of chum salmon to Hood Canal remains on track to break the record, coming in with four times as many fish as predicted earlier this year.

Watching salmon at Poulsbo's Fish Park Photo by Tristan Baurick

Watching salmon from a bridge in Poulsbo’s Fish Park
Photo by Tristan Baurick

Last week, I reported that the total run size for Hood Canal fall chum appeared to be about 1.4 million fish, according to computer models. See Kitsap Sun, Oct. 30 (subscription). The modern-day record is 1.18 million, set in 2003. If conditions hold, this year’s run will easily exceed that.

The large Hood Canal run also is expected to provide an economic boost of some $5 million to $6 million for commercial fishers, not including fish processors and stores that sell the fish.

The forecast models are based largely on commercial harvests. Data collected since I wrote the story only tend to confirm the record-breaking run, according to salmon managers. Final estimates won’t be compiled until the end of the season.

The chum run in Central and South Puget Sound also are looking very good. The latest data suggest that the run could reach 700,000, or nearly twice the preseason estimate and well above average.

Meanwhile, the large chum runs are attracting Puget Sound’s orcas to the waters off Bainbridge Island and Seattle, as chinook runs decline in the San Juan Islands and elsewhere. As I described in a story on Sunday, it has been an odd year for the whales, which may have spent most of the summer chasing chinook off the coast of Washington. See Kitsap Sun, Nov. 2 (subscription).

A chum salmon crosses a log weir at Kitsap Golf and Country Club. Photo by Meegan Reid

A chum salmon crosses a log weir in Chico Creek at Kitsap Golf and Country Club.
Photo by Meegan Reid

The large chum run also promises to provide some great viewing opportunities for people to watch the salmon migration in their local streams. I would direct you to the interactive salmon-viewing map that Amy Phan and I completely revamped last year for the Kitsap Sun’s website. The map includes videos describing salmon streams across the Kitsap Peninsula.

Speaking of salmon-watching, everyone is invited to Saturday’s Kitsap Salmon Tours, an annual event in which biologists talk about the amazing salmon and their spawning rituals. One can choose to visit one or both of the locations in Central Kitsap. For details, check out the Kitsap Public Utility District’s Website.

One of the locations, now named Chico Salmon Park, is undergoing a major facelift, thanks to more than 100 hours of volunteer labor over the past two weekends — not to mention earlier work going back to the beginning of the year. See the Kitsap County news release issued today.

Volunteers working on the park deserve a lot of credit for removing blackberry vines, Scotchbroom and weeds from this overgrown area. This property, which has Chico Creek running through it, is going to be a wonderful park someday after native trees and plants become established. (See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 2, 2013)

If you’re into kayaking, there’s still time to watch from the water. See Olympic Outdoors Center or check out the tips by reporter Tristan Baurick, Kitsap Sun, Oct. 21, 2013 (subscription).

Here’s my final word: If you live on the Kitsap Peninsula — or anywhere around Puget Sound — you should visit a salmon stream to learn what all the fuss is about — and be sure to take the kids.

Purse seine boats working on major chum salmon run on Hood Canal. Photo by Larry Steagall

Purse seine boats make the best of a major chum salmon run on Hood Canal last week.
Photo by Larry Steagall


Chum salmon are arriving, and you can watch them

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Well, we got it done, at least for now. I’m talking about a project that included a total of 27 new videos and an interactive map, all to help people observe the annual migration of chum salmon on the Kitsap Peninsula.

This project is one reason I have not written as many stories or blog entries as I normally would have over the past few weeks.

This is the fourth remake of the salmon map, going back to the first map published in the newspaper in 1995. This year, reporter Amy Phan produced the videos, adding many more location shots. We’ve also added an overview video describing the project and how to use the map (below).

Because most of the filming was done before the rains arrived, streamflows in the videos are lower than what you will see if you go out now. If I had it to do again, I would have shot more video of salmon last fall. We’ll probably substitute some new shots of salmon in the streams.

You’ll find my story about the beginning of salmon season in today’s Kitsap Sun. The web address for the salmon map is easy to remember: www.kitsapsun.com/salmon.
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Maps for salmon-viewing and whale-watching

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

I’ve been away from “Water Ways” quite a lot lately while covering a trial in Tacoma involving safety and environmental concerns at Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. Kitsap County is suing the club over operations at its gun range near Bremerton. (Watch for my “live blogging” or read the stories on the Kitsap Sun website.)

Meanwhile, I’d like to call your attention to a story by Kitsap Sun reporter Brynn Grimley, who took a “salmon tour” via kayak last weekend. Her close-up story and some great photos by Meeghan Reid can be seen in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.

Whale Trail poster / Click on image to download poster (PDF 1.5 mb)

As chum salmon begin to arrive in small streams throughout the Kitsap Peninsula, you may wish to carefully observe their migration and spawning. Several years ago, a couple of us at the Sun created a map with videos depicting the best viewing spots. Check out Kitsap Sun Salmon Map. I hope to update the videos with new information when I get time.

Another map that may be of interest is the “Whale Trails” map that purports to show the best places in Puget Sound to view marine mammals. Unfortunately, there are no places shown on the Kitsap Peninsula. I might recommend Point No Point County Park in North Kitsap, locations on the Kingston waterfront, and Bachmann Park in the city of Bremerton, as well as several places on Bainbridge Island.

The Whale Trail organization sent me a poster for the Washington State Ferries that will help riders know what kinds of marine mammals they may be seeing. This is a great idea, and I hope people will take the opportunity to learn about the kinds of animals common in the waters of Puget Sound. Click on the image (PDF 2.5 mb), above right, to download the poster.

The Puget Sound killer whales are a little late this year in making excursions into South Puget Sound. They typically come south hunting for chum salmon after the runs of chinook decline up north. I’ll have more to say about this when we begin to see them more frequently, assuming they are just late this year.


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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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