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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Nov 21

The 2017-18 Salmon Spawner Season is Upon Us!

Posted on November 21, 2017 at 10:33 AM by Emma Detwiler

Written by: Aquatic Ecologist Eric Ettlinger

The 2017-18 salmon spawner season is well underway in Lagunitas Creek! In fact, the first fish of the season was a chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) seen on August 22 swimming in a channel excavated through a busy construction site. The construction was part of a project to improve floodplain habitat for salmon, but that’s a story for another time.

This was the first time we’ve seen salmon before October, and since then the season has only continued to get stranger. In late September California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff noticed the first redds (gravel nests) in Lagunitas Creek, and saw fish they suspected were pink salmon (O. gorbushka). MMWD surveys began in late October and we saw ten pink (also called humpback) salmon. Pink salmon are uncommon south of Washington State, and are rarely seen in California streams. No one knows why, but this year they’ve been reported from as far south as Pescadero in San Mateo County.

Following last Thursday’s nice storm we observed 12 Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), four chum salmon, and the first coho salmon (O. kisutch) of the season. The coho and Chinook are likely returning to the stream of their birth, while the chum and pinks are almost certainly straying from streams farther north. Wherever they come from, they’ve made Lagunitas Creek one of the few streams in California that can claim four of the five Pacific salmon species in one season.
 

sr1

 

 Pink Salmon


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