Editor’s note: Information courtesy of Harbor WildWatch.
Dozens of salmon are making their way back to Gig Harbor for the final leg of their life journey.
These chum salmon returned to Donkey Creek last Friday to spawn, according to Harbor WildWatch Executive Director Lindsey Johnson.
Most salmon species are born in freshwater and migrate to the sea. After several years, they return to their natal freshwater streams to lay eggs.
Chum and other salmon species, including pink, sockeye, chinook and coho, spawn between August and February when stream flow increases and water temperatures drop, according to Harbor WildWatch, a non-profit marine environmental education organization in Gig Harbor.
The male salmon fertilizes the eggs after the female uses her tail to dig out a gravel nest. The adults die shortly after.
The eggs incubate for about 2 to 4 months. Due to natural conditions only 10 to 50 percent of the fertilized eggs in streams survive to hatch.
With plenty of rain expected this week, Johnson said more salmon are expected to make their way to the Gig Harbor creek.
While Johnson said there are no official numbers on how many salmon returned, she said the Harbor WildWatch is hoping to work with the City during the Donkey Creek/Austin Estuary restoration project to obtain salmon counts before and after the project is complete.
"They was a large amount of fish spawning last year, but from my understanding, that was a very unusual event," Johnson said.
The Harbor WildWatch also offers two salmon-related workshops to local elementary and middle schools through its Harbor Outreach Program (HOP).
For more information, visit the Harbor WildWatch website.