Here’s A Unique Holiday Volunteer Opportunity: ‘Pluck’ Coho Salmon Eggs!


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Miller/Walker Creek Steward Dennis Clark alerts us to a very unique holiday volunteer opportunity: “pluck” coho salmon eggs at Miller Creek in Normandy Park on Dec. 17th!

“Volunteers are needed to help pick dead/diseased (salmon) eggs out of the incubation trays to keep the other eggs healthy,” Clark said in an email. “This activity is suitable for people as young as 12 and all ages are welcome to observe. No special skill is required other than basic eye-hand coordination to pluck unwanted eggs out of the trays.”

Clark adds:

Volunteers will work indoors but the building is unheated and water does splash around so rain gear is useful.

Volunteering is a great activity for families looking for a unique and close-in activity during the winter school break!

Volunteers also are welcome in January as well, although the need is not as acute.

If you are interested in helping pluck “bad eggs” for an hour or two any day of the week, please contact Russ Welker at 206-824-2044 or rwelker@q.com.

Here’s more from Clark’s email:

What’s red, round, and shows up in the tens of thousands each December in Highline? No, not Christmas tree ornaments – coho salmon eggs!

Each year, volunteers from Trout Unlimited receive coho salmon eggs from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery at Soos Creek near Auburn. The eggs are raised for about a month in a small hatchery building on the grounds of the Southwest Suburban Sewer District plant on Miller Creek . Continuously bathed in clean well water, the eggs incubate and turn into 2-3 cm long fish (alevins). Just as the fish have absorbed their yolk sacks in mid- to late-January, volunteers then outplant the salmon throughout Miller Creek and Walker Creek as well as Des Moines Creek and other smaller streams in Highline. Once in the streams, the baby fish have to survive the same evolutionary pressures that naturally-hatched fish experience: high and low water flows, water quality problems (soap from car washing, leaking oil, dog poop, etc.), food scarcity (more bugs, please!), and predators (great blue herons). Nonetheless, the outplanted hatchery fish help compensate for “pre-spawn mortality” among adult coho salmon – as documented in the CSI: Highline fish-counting program – and damage to salmon egg nests (“redds”) caused by flooding/high flows.

This year, the eggs will be delivered to the hatchery in Normandy Park on December 17. Particularly during the first two weeks, volunteers are needed to help pick dead/diseased eggs out of the incubation trays to keep the other eggs healthy. This activity is suitable for people as young as 12 and all ages are welcome to observe. No special skill is required other than basic eye-hand coordination to pluck unwanted eggs out of the trays. Volunteers will work indoors but the building is unheated and water does splash around so rain gear is useful. Volunteering is a great activity for families looking for a unique and close-in activity during the winter school break! Volunteers also are welcome in January as well, although the need is not as acute.

- Dennis Clark
206-296-1909 additional contact information
Miller/Walker Creek Basin Steward
Miller/Walker Creeks Basin Stewardship

Here’s a video of chum salmon migrating up Miller Creek in Normandy Park, on Nov. 27th, courtesy Barb and Darrell Williams during the Community Salmon Investigation for Highline program:

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Photo of salmon eggs courtesy Miller and Walker Creeks Stewardship Community Salmon Investigation (CSI) Page.

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