Report: Creekwalks 2017-2018

The next generation of coho salmon eggs are now resting, protected by six inches of gravel at the bottom of Lagunitas Creek. While that’s a wrap on coho spawning season in West Marin, we have a lot of great adventures to reflect back on.

In early December we crossed our fingers for a rainy forecast while watching anxious fish circle the deep pools in the lower watershed. We were able to capture some amazing UNDERWATER footage of this ocean-like behavior of our early arrival coho. 

While patiently waiting for rain, we found some of the earliest fish give up and resort to spawning in the main stem of Lagunitas Creek just before New Years. A majority of the fish were still waiting in the deep pools waiting for more water to access to the upper reaches of the creek.

Throughout the entire winter season we saw a diversity of wildlife, from otters to wood ducks to belted kingfishers. 

Once the rains came, we were lucky enough to spot Pacific lamprey spawning, a jawless fish that lives it’s “ocean life” as a parasite on large marine mammals. They have to use their mouth to suction upstream to spawn because they are not built with the same swimming strength as salmon. Pacific lamprey only spawn once every seven years and could have started its journey upstream as early as last July.

Overall we are so grateful for the over 200 people that joined our public creekwalks this past winter, as well as the over 150 students and their teachers that made it out on field trips.

We wanted to share some of the frequently asked questions at our creekwalks this year:

1. How can I time my trip next year to see the most possible action?

This is a complicated question and is entirely based on rain patterns, water clarity, and other environmental factors. Our best suggestion is to follow the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) Facebook page. This is where we post regular updates about when and where we are seeing fish each winter. We look for fish almost every day, so this is a great place to start.

2. How can I get more involved with SPAWN the during the rest of the year?

SPAWN is dedicated to protecting and restoring the habitat of Lagunitas creek and that takes year round efforts managing large projects. The best way you can help is to bring your friend or group out our volunteer days in our native plant nursery, or restoring sites throughout the watershed. You can find dates on our calendar.

If you have other ideas about how you might be able to offer your unique skills feel free to email our Education Specialist Catie Clune at catie@tirn.net with your ideas.

3. How is SPAWN connected to Turtle Island Restoration Network?

Turtle Island Restoration Network is our organization, and SPAWN is a local conservation initiative based out of our headquarters in Northern California. Turtle Island Restoration Network has a mission of protecting endangered marine species, with a focus on sea turtles, sharks and marine mammals globally, and coho salmon locally.

You can learn more about our programs in Hawaii, Texas, and the Eastern Tropical Pacific by checking out our website: www.seaturtles.org or following Turtle Island Restoration Network Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

4. What can I do to show my support for the current campaign to restore the coho spawning grounds in the former San Geronimo Golf Course?

While we have seen progress toward the re-wilding of the golf course, it is important that we continue to show our support for Marin County’s decision. You can write a letter to the editor at Marin IJ, Point Reyes Light or your local news to sound your support. We have some simple talking points here.

 

For a suggested donation of $200 arrange a private naturalist-led tour to learn more about SPAWN’s efforts. Email Catie@tirn.net with any questions or to arrange a hike today.

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