UPDATE: Chimacum Creek Chum Run
NEWSFLASH: We’ve just received a report out of Chimacum Creek. It came to us from the Hood Canal Summer Chum pushing their way upstream. They say that “faithful surveyors” are “still fighting their way through wind, rain, and current, over and under log jams, and through the smell of carcasses” in order to obtain valuable data on the spawning salmon.
Photo by Rae Bronenkant
Since early September, volunteer surveyors have been helping NOSC and WDFW (Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife) monitoring returning Hood Canal Summer Chum in Chimacum Creek. The survey teams go out once a week to walk three stretches of the creek where chum spawn and dig their nests, or redds. Sporting chest waders and backpacks full of equipment, they walk through the creek in areas where the fish do not lay their eggs (deep pools, muddy substrate) and on the bank around gravelly areas called riffles where the fish dig their redds. Each week, they keep a count of live and dead salmon and take samples from carcasses including scales–which are used to determine age, much like the rings of a tree–and DNA.
Below is a draft of a graph produced by Cheri Scalf from WDFW. Cheri used data from NOSC survey teams to compare this year’s weekly live counts to those in previous years.
John Conley, NOSC volunteer and Chum Spawner Surveyor, shot this great video of a school of chum salmon in one of the many pocket pools of Chimacum Creek!
We expect the chum run to continue for the next few weeks, so please view the fish safely by staying out of the creek. Walking on top of redds can and will destroy eggs. Volunteers will then transition to surveying coho which spawn much farther upstream in the highest stretches and tributaries. Want to join the survey team? See our post about coho survey training, Friday, October 31st from 10am-noon at the Cupola House (WSU Extension, Port Townsend.)