Citizen Scientists

Baby Salmon on the Move

Last Saturday, all of our 80,000 alevins, young salmon that still have their yolk sac attached, were moved from their rearing trays into holding troughs. In the holding troughs, our alevin are acclimated to the process of feeding before they are released into the rearing pond. The holding troughs are also used to check on their development process as they finish the process of “buttoning up”, which is where they lose their yolk sac from their bellies.

We had the Students Saving Salmon Club and other volunteers show up and help us with this large move for our small coho salmon. They are moved from the trays that simulate their natural environment with their meshed-made redds into the holding troughs by gently placing the tray into the trough, and are then allowed to swim outside of the only world they’ve known so far. After making sure all of the alevin have swam out of the trays, the trays are then rinsed off. In the holding troughs, our volunteers helped remove eggs that didn’t make it.

The water that flows into the troughs comes directly from Willow Creek, which provides the oxygen and clean water that young salmon vitally need. A cool thing to notice if you get to see them in their troughs is how they swim against the current. Salmon instinctively do this either because they get more oxygen since water is flowing directly past their gills or because this is how they feed by eating small zooplankton that are carried with the current.

Students Saving Salmon Club using Engineering to Save Salmon

Check out the recent article about the Students Saving Salmon Club using their ingenuity and a device called a “hatchbox” to raise eggs in their natural habitat from the delicate egg to alevin phase. Once they “button up” and lose their egg sac that they rely on for nourishment, they can exit the hatchbox and start their long journey towards the ocean.

From the article:

“Students from Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale high schools are helping restore and enhance local salmon populations. Last Friday and Saturday, students placed fertilized coho and chum salmon eggs in instream incubators called “hatchboxes.”  The hatchboxes with chum salmon eggs were placed in lower Lunds Gulch Creek at Meadowdale Beach Park and those with coho salmon eggs were placed in Edmonds’ upper Shell Creek.

The salmon eggs will hatch in the hatchbox and the baby salmon will grow there until they have consumed their yolk sac and are ready to swim out of the hatchbox and begin life in the stream as salmon fry. This is similar to the natural process that occurs with salmon eggs laid in the gravel and growing to the fry stage before emerging from the gravel. Chum salmon fry will remain in the stream for only a few days before swimming out to saltwater, whereas coho salmon will spend the first year of their life in the stream.

The EWHS Students Saving Salmon club placed the coho salmon eggs in the upper portion of Shell Creek in Yost Park so that the young salmon can grow in stream habitat that is otherwise inaccessible due to an impassable waterfall near 7th Avenue and Glen Street.”