I’ve been monitoring the fish happenings at our local beach — the official “Fish Count” of returning salmon. I knew this park years ago when my family lived close by. It was a figment then of what it’s now become, restored to encourage Coho and Chum salmon to return up creek and spawn. The habitat provides things that salmon love: gravel for egg laying, logs for hiding, restored marshlands to cradle the creek.
It’s a relatively small parcel. But as I acclimate to the Northwest in all of its splendor, I’ve come to appreciate these glimpses, however small, into the Puget Sound’s past — when this grand basin, fjord-like in structure and currents, was an estuary brimming with salmon, birds and other estuarine life.
Rehabbing salmon habitat is part of a grander action plan to revive the nature of Puget Sound — plans like the Shared Salmon Strategy. I’ll write more about these local efforts in a future post.
For now, though, I’m all about the Fish Count.
When we first arrived, there were no fish. Well, I should say, no discernible, counted fish marked on the board. We saw some jumping fish in the duck pond. But the official word was: Fish Count = 0.
In October, the first bona fide fish showed up on the board. Fish Count = 9.
When I first saw the sign, I looked for a docent or a researcher to ask about the counting methodology. Are they all spawned fish, found and accounted for? Do they remove the carcasses of dead salmon?
By whatever measure used, weeks later, the count was up to 19.
We regularly walk creekside, looking for fish. But over the span of 15 acres, including sheltered and shaded areas of stream, they’re tough to find. I rely on the cartoon fish on the board to give me the news.
Tonight, I wandered down to the beach in the last waves of light. Usually, I’m alone, taking a shot of the Fish Count board in the community hall window. Today, though, I had friends on the boardwalk: chain-smoking bagpipe players and an efficiency catering crew. They were excited about the night’s gathering of the Clan MacRae . . . or was that MacQueen? I might have been the only one there interested in the fact that the Fish Count was up — way up!
But more intriguing was the new designation in the upper lefthand corner of the sign: “CSI.”
Were they using 3D laser scanners now for their on-scene forensics? Did they dust for talon marks along the dorsal surface?
I didn’t see either of the two resident Bald Eagles, but it was well into evening roosting time. A few weeks ago, we watched one of the eagles fishing at the mouth of that creek. The persistent vision I have is of the eagle hoarding his precious meal, away from hungry crows and gulls.
That image made me wonder about the CSI. And what if Bald Eagles had dry-erase markers?
Tonight, with the new designation “CSI” plugged into Google, I solved my mystery. CSI = Community Salmon Investigation. It’s a team of volunteers, identifying salmon, dead and alive, and determining whether or not the salmon had a chance to spawn before dying.
I’m not sure how high the Fish Count will go. The Salmon Revival is quick becoming my newest Northwest nature passion.
Related Post: Climbing the Salmon Ladder of Success