Monday, October 31st, 2016
Chasing Chums up Chuckanut Creek with NSEA
Todd Elsworth

The only thing that I like better than eating fresh salmon is watching them in their final struggle to spawn up our local Bellingham creeks. That opportunity is about to present itself in the coming weeks with the returning Chum Salmon.

ChuckanutSalmonNSEA

Our local fish-loving organization, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (aka NSEA), leads tours throughout town during the month of November.

Here is their 2016 Salmon Viewing Schedule:

Oyster Creek Salmon Viewing Tour
Saturday, November 5, 2016
12:00pm 3:00pm

Arroyo Park Salmon Viewing Tour
Saturday, November 12, 2016
12:00pm 3:00pm

I took my family out last year and we learned a boat load from the NSEA interpreters stationed next to Chuckanut Creek in Arroyo Park.

ChuckanutSalmonNSEAtable

There is a bit of a scavenger hunt for the kids to enjoy as they walk along the trail and answer questions that are tagged along the trail.

ChuckanutSalmonNSEAkids

And then there’s the “images of death” that show the cycle and part of the natural surroundings. Salmon carcasses strewn about along the creek, trophies of the journey they have endured. They begin to rot and become part of the nutrients that wash downstream and settle in the sediment, spawning lives beyond their own.

ChuckanutSalmondead

Some linger in shallow pools waiting to gather enough energy to jump up to the next space and select where they are going to do their duty. They sit so still, conserving their energy, that it’s hard to tell if they are even still alive!

ChuckanutSalmonmolt

Then again, this is the end. Some are stuck in the most precarious situations at the end of their lives. We just hope that they were able to accomplish what they showed up to do.

ChuckanutSalmoneye

Spawn ON!

From Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association:

Bear witness to the final leg of the salmon journey: spawning the next generation!

This is a must see for anyone who might be new to the Pacific Northwest – the earlier you see it, the quicker you’ll understand why salmon are emblematic. (This would probably make a pretty cool first date too!)

Complimentary warm beverages will be available, open to all ages, no cost and no RSVP needed to attend. How cool is that? Open house style, visit anytime between 12-3pm on either or both of the two dates!

What type of salmon might I see? Chum salmon (Onchorynchus keta)

What if I have questions? NSEA naturalists are partnering with Skagit Fishery Enhancement Group (SFEG) experts and will be available to answer questions and help visitors view salmon in our local creeks as they return from the sea.

What should I wear/bring?¬†Dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes, bring a camera, binoculars and/or a sketch book to make a record of the mini miracle you’ll see.

Special Note to Pet Owners: Please leave your 4-legged friends at home so as not to disturb the salmon while spawning – their energy is already limited and additional stress can be lethal at this final stage in their lifecycle.

 

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About the Author:

As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.

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