As with the past few years, we are showing very low numbers of both returning adults and juvenile fish. These data are extremely concerning, and consistent with low area returns over the broader region. Salmon face a number of serious threats in Puget Sound, including overharvesting which can particularly hit small streams, loss of stream habitat for rearing young, and difficult conditions facing them in the open ocean due to large issues including climate change. Unfortunately, Bainbridge salmon are subject to the same risks that face the larger salmon populations throughout our region. Our data support an urgent need to do more work to protect, conserve, and restore salmon runs in Puget Sound and beyond.
We also for the first time this year witnessed the phenomenon of a few “bright” dead salmon, which are salmon that have not yet transitioned to their spawning colors that are found dead. In urbanized areas, bright salmon may be a sign of pre-spawn mortality that has been linked to urban stormwater runoff and more recently, specifically chemicals from vehicle tires. Although Bainbridge and our surrounding areas do not have the level of urbanization that we would expect to create large stormwater runoff issues in the same way that the Seattle and Tacoma areas do, we cannot rule out that stormwater runoff could be a growing issue for our area as well.