Salmon Sightings Mark Beginning of Spawning Season in Marin County

Salmon Sightings Mark Beginning of Spawning Season in Marin County

For Immediate Release, December 21, 2020

Contact: Todd Steiner, tsteiner@seaturtles.org, 415-488-7652

Salmon Sightings Mark Beginning of Spawning Season in Marin County

FOREST KNOLLS, Calif. — The Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) spotted endangered coho salmon in Marin County’s Lagunitas Creek today, marking the beginning of the coho spawning season. 

At least 14 coho salmon that enter the watershed through Tomales Bay from the Pacific Ocean to spawn – lay eggs in nests, called redds – were spotted in the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area. Between Monday and Tuesday 50 adult coho salmon were observed by Marin Municipal Water District. The season is off to a late start – two years ago over 300 coho were counted during the third week of December.

“After experiencing some of the worst spawning numbers in nearly a quarter century last year, we are hoping this year is better for our endangered coho,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of SPAWN. “Every redd is critical to the survival of the species.”

From now until late January, salmon will run up Lagunitas Creek, home to the largest remaining run of wild Central California Coast coho. Historic assessments of the Lagunitas Creek Watershed estimated the spawning population in the thousands. Biologists are expecting anywhere from 300-700 fish as this year’s cohort is the average-year class (average is about 500 individual fish). Last year only a total of 44 redds were reported, the worst spawning numbers in nearly a quarter century. 

Since the listing of Central California Coast coho salmon under the Endangered Species Act in 1996, their population has continued to dramatically decline and the fish are now considered close to extinction. Marin’s population of coho salmon is considered to be one of the strongest remaining in California and critical to the recovery of the species throughout Central California. 

To provide critical habitat for young salmon and remove a migration barrier for adult salmon, SPAWN recently removed a 100-year-old dam on San Geronimo Creek, which was the highest priority fish passage barrier in Central California, according to NOAA.

“Adult coho are going to be swimming through and wriggling around boulders on their migration upstream in the now free-flowing creek we’ve created, which is a great feeling,” said Preston Brown, SPAWN’s director of watershed conservation.

Due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19, SPAWN is unable to offer Creekwalk Tours this year but has released an online guide on how, when, and where to see salmon spawn in Marin County.

Photos and videos of the salmon are available for media to use here

To arrange an interview with one of SPAWN’s biologists or take a tour to capture videos and photos of salmon spawning, please contact Executive Director Todd Steiner at tsteiner@seaturtles.org or 415-488-7652.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a global ocean conservation nonprofit based out of Olema, California. Its program, the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN), protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to survive in West Marin County. Learn more at www.seaturtles.org/salmon.

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