The shortest days of the year are upon us, but thanks to Students Saving Salmon clubs at Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale high schools, it is also a time for new life in three local salmon streams: Willow Creek, Shell Creek and Lund’s Gulch Creek.
On Sunday, more than a dozen students gathered at the Willow Creek Fish Hatchery to place more than 5,000 Coho salmon eggs in specially designed hatch boxes, which were later submerged directly into the waters of Willow, Shell and Lund’s Gulch Creeks. The young salmon that hatch from these eggs imprint on the unique chemical signature of the water, which will ultimately guide them back to spawn right here in Edmonds.
“This is the second year we’ve used the hatch boxes,” said fish biologist Joe Scordino, who has been working with Students Saving Salmon for more than five years. “Last year we had some issues with sand and silt clogging them up, but we’ve refined our technique for this year and we think we’ve got that licked.”
The boxes themselves are specially designed to hold 200 eggs, each in its own individual chamber. The students filled six sets of hatch boxes with eggs.
One was placed in Willow Creek and two in Shell Creek on Sunday, and two were placed in Lund’s Gulch Creek, which flows through Meadowdale County Park, on Monday. The last box will be placed in Shell Creek on Tuesday. According to Scordino 25 students from both schools participated in the effort. He added that the eggs will hatch right around Christmas Day.
“When the eggs hatch the yolk sac remains attached to the young alevin (hatchling),” explained Scordino. “The holes into the individual hatch box chambers are small enough that the alevin can’t get out until the yolk sac is completely absorbed, which is two weeks or so after hatching. Remaining in the box gives them additional protection and the attached yolk sac provides all the food they need. As soon as the sac is absorbed, they squeeze out through the hole in the hatch box and start feeding on their own. This not only protects the egg, but after hatching protects the young alevin.”
— By Larry Vogel