Conservation Corner

Oct 06

[ARCHIVED] Salmon Slip In to South Prairie Creek Preserve

The original item was published from October 6, 2023 9:21 AM to October 6, 2023 9:31 AM

A salmon close to spawningA female salmon with white, dead scales, having already spawned Photos of salmon at South Prairie Creek Preserve

Pink salmon are running at South Prairie Creek Preserve! Our Habitat Restoration Manager, Ryan Bird, snapped these pictures last week to show off one of our favorite visitors to the preserve. 

Pink salmon are a species with a two-year life cycle, and in Washington State, the runs occur on odd years. Adult pink salmon swim upstream from the ocean to spawn, typically to the same stream where they hatched. Females will dig shallow depressions in the gravel of the stream bed called “redds”, where they will deposit eggs to be fertilized by males. She will then guard her redd, usually for a few days, until her death. 

The left photo shows a healthy and active-looking female at the Preserve either guarding a redd or very close to spawning. The right photo shows a female seen at the Preserve who has likely already spawned and is near the end of her life. When salmon die, they become sustenance for other species such as birds, mammals, and invertebrates. Whether their bodies stay in the stream or are brought into riparian areas by other species, they will decompose and provide vital nutrients to plants and animals residing in the ecosystem.

While normally closed to the public, we're hosting an Orca Recovery Day Event at South Prairie Creek Preserve if you want to see these salmon up close and help restore the habitat they call home. We'll also have a bird walk with a birding expert! We'd love to see you there.