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Meet Smolt Monitoring Volunteer Bob Minekheim

IMG_0159.JPGEight years ago Bob Minekheim moved to Marin, and learned about SPAWN. As a former Navy Diver and someone who has always had a deep fascination with marine life, he knew he wanted to get involved in helping protect salmon and their habitat. He quickly became a SPAWN member, and went on one of our naturalist guided Creek Walk Tours to view the spawning salmon.

It was quite a spectacular sight, something that caused a ‘connection’. There was a deep concern and caring for what was happening so close to where we live,” he said.

From there Bob’s environmental interest in helping protect coho salmon and their creek habitat grew. Bob read a SPAWN newsletter calling for volunteers to work in the creeks assisting biologists with monitoring the juvenile salmon as they migrate to the sea, and called that day to learn how to help.

Bob went through the special SPAWN training to learn how to assist biologists with the out migration traps, and scientific observation. “The training provides a concise overview, and you get to see everything that happens each morning, and gain some hands on experience taking records,” he said.

For the past two years Bob has been part of the core team of volunteers that gets up each morning during the spring out migration period to weigh, measure, track conditions and associated data and record everything in an effort to find ways of assisting the survival of these critically endangered coho salmon.

As a volunteer who returns each spring, Bob has enjoyed noting the changes he sees and comparing them to past years. For him it is always exciting to see what is in the smolt traps every morning. Last year volunteers recorded record numbers of lamprey, and this year. Bob speculates that the fish seemed larger than last year.

Working with these young salmon is something you grow immediately passionate about. It’s always an adventure with the hopeful anticipation of what each new day will bring. This year was particularly gratifying with both increased number and size of the smolt,” he explains.

Once you start getting interested in it, it carries itself on and you want to come back and see how you have done. And each year I want to go back and see the records, and share the records. I want to share that with my community and friends,” he explains.

This work has shown the biological importance of the San Geronimo Creek Watershed to endangered coho salmon populations, yet no action has been taken by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to prevent damaging development. Please contact your Supervisor at (415) 473-7331 and ask them to put in place a commonsense, science based ordinance today! SaveMarinsCoho.org