Seining Report - 20008
Beach Watcher Seining takes a new Direction in 2008
Beach Watcher seining teams began the 2008 seining season in December 2007 with a planning meeting hosted by Eric Beamer of the Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) at the Swimonish Tribal Center in La Conner. Kurt Fresh and Anna Kagley represented NOAA Fisheries, Todd Zachy the Tulalip tribe, and Micah Wait was the Wild Fish Conservancy representative. Also in attendance were Kim Bredensteiner (former Island County Salmon Recovery Planner) and Janielle Marcelle from Island Planning.
After reviewing prior years seining results and reports the discussion turned to the 2008 sampling plan. Both NOAA Fisheries and SRSC agreed that sufficient data had been gathered at Harrington and Race lagoons as well as Elger bay to help answer questions related to juvenile Chinook salmon use of pocket estuaries in the Whidbey Basin. Data from these three Saratoga Passage sites documented juvenile Chinook preference for these habitat types as well as period use and size information for Pink and Chum salmon. The presence of forage fish such as Sand Lance and Smelt was also observed.
The focus in 2008 would be to increase our understanding of juvenile Chinook nearshore habitat as it relates to river origin. This research would attempt to link specific Chinook populations in our sampling area to specific Island County habitats. By populations, we mean spawning populations. There are 23 genetically distinct Chinook salmon populations that spawn in different tributaries/sections of Puget Sounds major rivers. It turns out that because salmon are so faithful to returning to their natal spawning grounds, the populations are enough different that we can test the juveniles from the nearshore and link them to a particular population. Its just in the last few years that the DNA library has been completed to make this work possible. Some populations are more threatened than others; knowing which are using specific Island county habitats will be helpful to salmon recovery planners in prioritizing restoration and protection projects.
Large Beach Seine at Maxwelton Beach
Shifting from pocket estuary to nearshore seining involved the use of a larger boat launched seine net and some muscle to haul in the catch. Although protocols were similar to small beach seining, we had to learn new identifying features of the much larger fish and to efficiently process greater catch numbers. With Whidbey teams working with new partner Wild Fish Conservancy at a dozen West and South Whidbey sites and Camano teams with SRSC and the Tulalip Tribe at Elger Bay and English Bloom, seining teams identified, weighed and measured thousands of juvenile salmon to obtain over 100 non-lethal wild Chinook fin clip samples for DNA analysis. Over 700 volunteer hours were logged in support of this project.
One setting can net over 1,500 juvenile salmon
Beach Watchers participating in this project were: Joe Beck, Jim Somers, Tom Albrecht, Monem Mahmound Abdel, Melissa Merickel, Bob Gentz, Bob Buck, Doug Kollasch, Stewart Congdon, Carol(Finn) Gatewood, Jill Hein, Lenore Minstrell, Sarah Martin, Tony Pizzon and Graham Johnson. The Camano seining team included: Barbara Brock, Dave Brubaker, Scott Chase, Pete Damato, Pat Foss, Bill Griffith, Joyce Leak, and Tom Perry.