Being Frank NWIFC News
Cooperation Leads the Way Fisheries Commission
6730 Martin Way E.
By Billy Frank Jr. Olympia, WA 98516
NWIFC News is published quarterly. Free
For years, Skagit County subscriptions are available. This edition
has been a battleground be- is also online at www.nwifc.org. Articles in
tween fishermen and farm-
NWIFC News may be reprinted.
ers. After a recent court vic-
tory, the Swinomish Tribe is
finding a way for the once NWIFC Chairman
warring sides to come to- Billy Frank Jr.
gether for the good of salmon
A few years back, the
Swinomish Tribe sued Skagit
County Dike District No. 22
for building tide gates with- T. Meyer
Information and Education Services
out the permits they needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Last Division Manager
September, a federal judge ruled that the district had violated both the Clean Tony Meyer
Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
With the judge’s ruling on their side, the Swinomish Tribe took the issue Regional Information Officers
out of the courtroom. Instead of forcing the district to pay federal fines, the Debbie Preston, Coast
tribe suggested that the two become partners in restoring 200 acres of estu- Emmett O’Connell, South Sound
ary in the Skagit delta. Tiffany Royal, Hood Canal/Strait of Juan de Fuca
It’s too bad that people sometimes need a court-ordered push to do the right Kari Neumeyer, North Sound
Last winter, the tribe and the dike district filed their formal plan about how Editorial Assistant
they’re going to restore that estuary habitat. The 200 acres of land proposed Sheila McCloud
for restoration is owned by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and for
now, provides food for over-wintering waterfowl.
Decades ago, at great cost to vital salmon habitat, most of the estuary was NWIFC Member Tribes: Hoh,
diked and drained to create farmland. Now, the salmon recovery effort is Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam,
working to undo that damage and restore tidal flow so young salmon have a Lummi Nation, Makah, Muckleshoot,
place to rear before heading to sea and adult salmon have somewhere to rest Nisqually, Nooksack, Port Gamble
before returning home to spawn. S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute, Quinault
To protect farmland, tide gates let excess water drain from the fields to Indian Nation, Sauk-Suiattle, Skokomish,
Skagit Bay, but keep salt water from getting in when the tides turn. Skagit Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish,
County Dike District No. 22 is responsible for the construction, maintenance Swinomish, Tulalip and Upper Skagit
and operation of the system of dikes and tide gates on Fir Island, between the
two forks of the Skagit River. Tribal contact information is available under
When three tide gates needed replacing in 2002 and 2006, the dike district Member Tribes at www.nwifc.org.
moved ahead without getting permits from the Corps of Engineers. That was
a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The new tide gates also prevented juvenile salmon from reaching their
rearing habitat. That was a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act
Chinook salmon in Puget Sound have been listed as “threatened” under
the ESA since 1999. In the Skagit, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of
their recovery is a shortage of estuary habitat.
Tribes like Swinomish haven’t been able to fish like they used to, because
of the collapse of so many Puget Sound salmon populations. The tribe’s har-
On the cover: Swinomish tribal members
vest of chinook has dropped 94 percent since 1975, and they haven’t fished a
Clay Day (left), Hawk Wilbur and Joe McDonald
full season for more than 20 years.
prepare to release the remains of a wild Skagit
Thanks to the federal judge’s decision in this case, the Swinomish Tribe River chinook back to the water. The quiet
and the dike district can put their differences aside and work together. moment near Deception Pass culminated the
This is the spirit of cooperation that guides natural resources co-manage- tribe’s annual Blessing of the Salmon Fleet and
ment in this area and will eventually be the reason we’re able to bring salmon First Salmon Ceremony in May. See story next
back. page. Photo: K. Neumeyer
K. Neumeyer K. Neumeyer
Lummi Nation’s Swan Clan Dancers perform at the tribe’s First Salmon Swinomish tribal member John Cayou Jr. sings a Shaker blessing during
Ceremony at Lummi Nation School in May. the Upper Skagit Tribe’s Blessing of the Fleet.
Time to Bless Fishermen, Welcome First Salmon
W hen the winter snow has melted and cottonwood fluff is in the air, chinook salmon make
their way home to western Washington rivers. Treaty tribal fishermen return to the
water as well, and the tribes celebrate the season with blessings of the fleet and first salmon
ceremonies, to protect tribal fishermen and honor the salmon that sustain them.
The cultural events include a feast of “ESA is hard for the tribes,” she said. “It per Skagit Tribe’s natural resources direc-
traditional food such as salmon, halibut, is hard when we have to throw back the chi- tor. “Ideally, we also have a fishery for our
shellfish, prawns and crab – usually caught nook. It’s hard for me to work all year and general membership so they can meet their
and prepared by tribal fishermen. come home to say we have no fishery.” individual needs and either put away fish
At the Lummi Nation ceremony in May, The Swinomish Tribe held its Blessing or sell it to support their families.”
tribal elder Jack Cagey led drummers and of the Fleet and First Salmon Ceremony – K. Neumeyer
a procession of students carrying paddles the following week along the Swinomish
and cedar branches through a crowd of Channel in La Conner. Four young tribal
about 600 people gathered in the school members carried the remains of wild
gymnasium. Skagit River chinook, wrapped in cedar
“It feels good in my heart to have this boughs and decorated with prawns, crab
ceremony done at the Lummi Nation legs and berries. After blessings from the
School,” said Cliff Cultee, a tribal fisher- Catholic, Pentecostal and Shaker faiths,
man and Lummi Natural Resources Com- the young men returned the fish remains
mission secretary. “It’s really important to the water. (Listen to a podcast about the
for the kids to learn our culture.” Swinomish blessing at www.nwifc.org/sec- NWIFC Officers Re-elected
The ceremonies also educate the tribal tion/podcasts.)
At the annual election in May,
and non-tribal community about salmon The Upper Skagit Tribe held its blessing
NWIFC Chairman Billy Frank Jr.
recovery and the role fishing plays in tribal on the bank of the Skagit River. Rev. Pat
received a unanimous vote of
culture. Twohy and Larry Campbell of the Swin-
confidence from the Board of
Puget Sound chinook are listed as omish Tribe blessed each fisherman indi-
Commissioners to continue in his
“threatened” under the federal Endangered vidually with a cedar bough.
long-time role as chairman. Frank,
Species Act (ESA), posing a challenge to The blessing was significant to the Up-
a Nisqually tribal member, was
tribal fishermen, noted Merle Jefferson, per Skagit Tribe because this was only the
re-elected in 2007 to a three-year
the tribe’s natural resources director. second time in many years that the tribe
“The habitat is going to take many years had a commercial spring chinook fishery
The board also re-elected
to fix,” he said. for its members.
Swinomish fisheries manager
Swinomish fisheries manager Lorraine “We provide for the overall community
Lorraine Loomis (above left) as vice
Loomis, vice chair of the Northwest Indian needs of the tribe with ceremonial fisher-
chair and Quinault Indian Nation
Fisheries Commission, shared her thoughts ies conducted by our natural resources
policy representative Ed Johnstone
as a witness at the Lummi ceremony. department,” said Scott Schuyler, the Up-
(above right) as treasurer. Both
officers hold one-year terms.
Good Fisheries Planning Renews Harvest
Skagit River Tribes, Sport Fishermen
Share Summer/Fall Chinook Fishery
For the first time in 16 years, The Skagit River is the larg-
recreational fishermen will est producer of wild chinook in
be able to fish for Skagit Riv- the region. More than 23,000
er summer and fall chinook, summer and fall chinook are
thanks to a plan developed by expected to return to the Skagit.
tribal and state co-managers. The next largest runs of chi-
Each spring, the co-manag- nook to any Puget Sound river
ers set fishing seasons that are are fewer than 10,000 fish.
A Skagit River chinook cools on ice during the Upper Skagit Tribe’s
spring fishery. designed to protect weak wild Recreational fishing on the
runs while providing limited summer/fall run has been
Ceremonial Fishery First Since 1985 harvest for treaty tribal and closed since 1993. A key fac-
This summer, the Stillaguamish Tribe is holding its state sport and commercial tor to lasting salmon recovery
first ceremonial and subsistence chinook fishery since fisheries. is habitat restoration, Loomis
1985. The tribe plans to catch 20 North Fork Stillagua- “The tribes are committed to said. “The largest reason for
mish River chinook and host a first salmon ceremony on working together with non-In- the decline of salmon is the
July 25. dian fishermen for the benefit loss and degradation of habi-
The tribe stopped fishing in the 1980s because Still- of the salmon resource,” said tat,” she said. “The only way
aguamish River chinook were struggling. For years, trib- Lorraine Loomis, Swinomish to lasting salmon recovery is to
al and state co-managers structured all the other fisheries fisheries manager and the tribal repair that damage.”
in the region to protect the weak populations of Stillagua- coordinator for the salmon set- Restoration projects by the
mish River chinook. ting process. “This harvest op- Upper Skagit, Swinomish and
Meanwhile, the tribe has supplemented the North Fork portunity on the Skagit River is Sauk-Suiattle tribes so far have
population with a hatchery program. Now, 1,000 fish or the outcome of strong salmon improved hundreds of acres
more return to spawn each year. management allowing us to of chinook rearing habitat in
“We’ve worked hard to recover these salmon, and the share the resource.” freshwater banks, backwaters,
payoff is the opportunity to carry on our cultural tradi- This summer, tribal and estuary channels and pocket
tions,” said Stillaguamish Chairman Shawn Yanity. sport fishermen will divide the estuaries. – K. Neumeyer
– K. Neumeyer week equally, with each fishing
for three-and-a-half days.
K. Neumeyer K. Neumeyer
Stillaguamish natural resources technicians Kate Konoski (left), A juvenile chinook salmon swims in its “fish condo” at the Stillaguamish
Charlotte Scofield and Jody Pope seine for juvenile chinook salmon. Tribe’s hatchery.
Stillaguamish Tribe Collects Juveniles, Expands Hatchery Program
While chinook returns to the North gram in the South Fork is the best way to until they are old enough to spawn. The
Fork Stillaguamish River have recovered keep the population from going extinct un- tribe has collected about 30 juvenile chi-
enough to allow for a small tribal harvest, til the habitat can be restored,” said Still- nook from the South Fork Stillaguamish
returns to the South Fork have declined aguamish Chairman Shawn Yanity. River to test the feasibility of implement-
to fewer than 100 fish. The Stillaguamish To maintain genetic diversity, the tribe ing a captive brood program. Efforts to
tribe is working to recreate the success of needs to use at least 15 male and 15 fe- collect adults will continue later this year.
the North Fork hatchery program on the male adult chinook. The extensive effort A similar captive broodstock program
South Fork, where chinook are genetically to collect broodstock last summer and fall already is under way for South Fork Nook-
distinct and always have been smaller in included snorkel surveys and an attempt- sack River spring chinook, which also have
number. ed helicopter retrieval, but there weren’t declined severely. The Lummi Nation and
Hatchery supplementation is not a sub- enough adult chinook salmon to be found. Nooksack Tribe have collected more than
stitute for habitat restoration – it is consid- Now, the natural resources department 800 juveniles that are being raised to adult-
ered genetic maintenance. is trying something different: beach sein- hood in hatcheries. – K. Neumeyer
“Starting a hatchery broodstock pro- ing for juvenile salmon to hold in captivity
Will Recovery Plan Bring
Help for Ozette Sockeye?
The Makah Tribe welcomed the recen- placing large woody
trelease of a recovery plan for threatened debris along stream-
Lake Ozette sockeye salmon as a signal banks and replacing
that more help is coming with their de- invasive, non-native
cades of work to restore a cultural icon to a species along streams
harvestable population. with native plants.
Lake Ozette sockeye salmon were list- The plan’s biologi-
ed as “threatened” under the Endangered cal recovery goals
Species Act (ESA) in 1999. The Makah were developed by the
Tribe has been working since the 1970s National Oceanic and
to return Lake Ozette sockeye to numbers Atmospheric Admin-
that will allow it again to be part of the istration Fisheries Ser-
Makah diet. vice technical recov- D. Preston
“When I was a child, I learned about ery team with active Joe Hinton, Makah’s Hoko Hatchery manager, prepares to release an
Lake Ozette through my great-grandfather, participation from the adult sockeye with identification tags back to Umbrella Creek.
grandmother, uncles and aunts,” said Russ Lake Ozette Steering
The Makah Tribe’s decades of work to
Svec, Makah tribal fisheries program man- Committee, made up of tribal representa-
recover sockeye populations includes:
ager. “It was common for my generation to tives, local citizens, forest managers, and
know about the traditional resources avail- biologists from several county, state and ● Mapping the instream habitat of
able to us at Lake Ozette.” federal entities. the entire Ozette watershed.
The tribe has not fished commercially Although the Fisheries Service is re- ● Improving spawning habitat by
for Ozette sockeye since the 1970s. quired under the ESA to produce a recov- adding wood that traps important
“With the recovery plan finished, we are ery plan, its implementation is voluntary. spawning gravel.
more optimistic about the resources that “We understand that the recovery plan is ● Monitoring water quality at all the
will be available to assist us with our work not legally binding,” Svec said. “But it does major tributaries to the lake.
to restore this fish and an area, altered by provide us with a road map to recovering ● Annual sockeye spawning surveys
extensive land use practices, that is critical Lake Ozette sockeye. With our continued that have been expanded to
to the viability of Lake Ozette sockeye,” efforts and the help of other partners, we accurately assess the extent of the
Svec said. look forward to the day that Lake Ozette sockeye spawning population.
The recovery plan calls for a range of ac- sockeye are recovered and we can return to ● Enhancement of the population
tions, including improvement to habitat by our traditional practices.” – D. Preston through the Makah Tribe’s Hoko
Floods, Habitat Loss Hurt Puyallup River Chinook
Fewer juvenile wild chinook year. A mild winter in 2007 “Because of habitat degra-
are migrating out of the Puy- resulted in the largest wild dation, spawning and rearing
allup River this year, likely chinook outmigration ever re- habitat throughout the Puyal-
because winter floods washed corded in the river: 89,000 wild lup watershed is limited,” Lad-
away chinook redds before the chinook. ley said. “One flood can do a lot
fish had a chance to emerge “It is possible that we’re see- of damage.”
from the gravel nests. ing just a very late outmigra- Historically, floods in the
The Puyallup Tribe of Indi- tion, but it’s much more likely Puyallup watershed were not
ans counts outgoing chinook that the chinook were killed as dangerous to salmon. “The
with a smolt trap in the lower during the winter floods,” said nature of the watershed has E. O’Connell
Puyallup River. The trap allows Russ Ladley, resource protec- changed dramatically, with The Puyallup Tribe measures juvenile
young salmon to be safely cap- tion manager for the tribe. dikes being built up right next salmon from a smolt trap. Smolts are
tured and released, providing A flood in 2006 had a simi- to the river. An increase in im- salmon undergoing “smoltification,”
a physiological process that allows
an estimate of the watershed’s lar impact on the outmigrat- pervious surfaces such as park- them to survive their transition from
productivity. ing chinook population. After ing lots make stormwater all fresh to salt water.
In early May, more than half- analysis, the tribe determined the more destructive,” Ladley
way through the outmigration that only 10,000 chinook left said. fewer adult chinook returning
season, only 34 chinook had the watershed that year, down Low numbers of juvenile three or four years from now,
been caught in the trap. That’s from a peak of 60,000 fish in chinook migrating out to the and that will mean restricted
down from 2,500 chinook last 2005. ocean this year will mean even fisheries. – E. O’Connell
Upper Skagit Comes Together for Clam Dig
A day before her 87th birthday, Upper Skagit tribal
member Vi Fernando watched her children and grand-
children dig for clams.
This was the first time Fernando found herself unable
to dig. Last year, fellow elders watched in surprise as she
got on the boat bound for the shellfish beds, instead of
waiting on the beach for a bucket of clams to be brought
“This is a community clam dig. Nobody just digs for
themselves,” said Scott Schuyler, natural resources di-
rector for the Upper Skagit Tribe and one of Fernando’s
grandsons. “It’s never one person digging, or one family.
We’re digging for everyone.”
The Upper Skagit Tribe held the community clam dig
at Cama Beach State Park in May. The beach on Camano
Island is part of the tribe’s usual and accustomed shell-
fishing area. In July, the tribe will have a dig at its other
traditional site, which is now part of the U.S. Naval Air
Station Whidbey Island.
“It’s important for our members to get out there exer-
cising our treaty rights,” Schuyler said. “Our ancestors Upper Skagit tribal elder Vi Fernando supervises Tamara Sam (left),
Linnette Hernandez and Carmella Fernando during a community clam
gave everything up for our treaty rights. We’d be doing dig at Cama Beach.
them a disservice not to exercise those rights.”
This year, a sore foot prevented Fernando from being great-grandmother used to have them hung up in the smokehouse
able to step on a clam fork to dislodge the shellfish from where she smoked the fish.”
beneath the sand and gravel. She got a few digs in, with The tribal members filled up buckets of butter clams, usually
the help of her daughter Carmella Fernando, who stepped leaving behind the larger horse clams, which aren’t as tasty.
on the clam fork for her. “They’re just mostly stomach,” Fernando said. “Butter clams
“They’re allowed to take 5-gallon buckets for whoever have a lot more meat on them than a horse clam does. I’d keep
they’re digging for. That’s a lot of clams,” Vi Fernando the big horse clams – they’ve got big necks, so they make good
said. “That’s what we used to live on a long time ago. My chowder.” – K. Neumeyer
Shellfish Agreement Leads to Public Beach Enhancement
The first clam seeding stemming from Representatives from the Skokomish clusive use. As part of the agreement, the
the historic 2007 shellfish agreement Tribe, Taylor Shellfish and state agencies, growers are providing $50,000 annually to
brought together a group of nearly 30 folks plus volunteers from as far away as Span- enhance shellfish on public beaches of the
from all over Puget Sound to Twanoh State away, scattered approximately 500,000 ju- state’s choosing for the next decade.
Park on Hood Canal in April. venile manila clams on the park’s beach. “We need more enhancement opportuni-
The project is the result of ties like today to provide more harvest op-
an agreement that resolved portunities throughout Hood Canal,” said
lingering issues from a 1994 Randy Lumper, the Skokomish Tribe’s
federal court ruling that up- aquatic resources enhancement biologist.
held the treaty tribes’ right The tiny clams are expected to grow to
to harvest shellfish on public legal harvest size in several years.
and private tidelands. Under “The tribes and the state have been en-
the $33 million agreement hancing public beaches with clams and oys-
settled in 2007, treaty tribes ters for years, but our budgets are limited,”
agreed to forgo harvesting said Brady Blake, Washington Department
naturally occurring shell- of Fish and Wildlife shellfish enhancement
fish on commercial growers’ biologist. “Grower-funded seeding will re-
farms. The tribes are using ally bump up recreational opportunity on
the settlement funding for beaches like this over the next decade or
shellfish enhancement on so.” – T. Royal
reservation beaches and oth-
ers designated for their ex-
Skokomish Tribe natural resources technician Shane Miller
spreads manila clam seed at Twanoh State Park.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is
on the hunt for harmful algal blooms
this summer in Sequim Bay, to get a
better picture of how the explosions of
microorganisms affect the bay.
“We’re looking at the effects of these
blooms on factors such as water qual-
ity and toxins in shellfish,” said Chris
Whitehead, tribal shellfish biologist.
“We also hope that the information will
help contribute to the development of
a harmful algal bloom early warning
Harmful algal blooms occur when T. Royal
Suquamish shellfish biologist Paul Williams shows Jean Walat, volunteer coordinator for the Port
water temperatures rise or when there Townsend Marine Science Center, how to catch juvenile crabs with a bag of mesh scrubbers.
are excess nutrients in the water. The
blooms can cause toxins such as domoic
acid to develop in shellfish. While not Capturing Wide-eyed Baby Crab
to Understand Population Decline
harmful to the bivalves, the toxins can
sicken humans who eat them.
The tribe is sampling shellfish and
water at four sites at the same time each The instrument is simple – attach a bag “This project will allow managers to
week through September 2009. filled with mesh kitchen scrubbers to a gain insight into the early life stages of this
The Washington Department of small buoy and place the contraption in commercially important species and help
Health (DOH) and National Ocean- Puget Sound. Pull the buoy 24 hours later to determine how fluid populations are
ic and Atmospheric Administration and there should be dozens of Dungeness throughout the state,” said Rasmuson, who
(NOAA) have been conducting studies crab larvae attached. wrote the project proposal.
of the bay to determine when toxins are Biologists are placing these scrubbers When crab eggs hatch, the larvae drift
in the water. But the tribe, which uses along the nearshore to capture a subsample with tidal currents for up to six months be-
the bay for a wide range of cultural and of crab washing toward the shore. When fore settling down to mature into adults in
economic uses, believes more informa- post-larval crabs are ready to settle, they estuaries and other nearshore areas.
tion is needed to get a better grasp of grab the first thing with enough texture While this study is looking at the natural
the bay’s overall health. for them to hold onto. Shellfish biologists fluctuation of larvae coming from outside
“There seems to be a gap in the data Paul Williams, with the Suquamish Tribe, Puget Sound, a number of factors may con-
collected by DOH and NOAA, since and Leif Rasmuson, with the Skokom- tribute to the decline including overfishing,
they’re not collected at the same time or ish Tribe, are recruiting tribes, state and low dissolved oxygen and disease.
at the same location,” Whitehead said. county agencies, and volunteer groups to Williams and Rasmuson are looking
“That makes it difficult to link water collect the native crustaceans throughout for volunteers in Hood Canal, the Strait
toxin levels and algae counts with toxin Puget Sound. of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, the San
levels in shellfish.” “By collecting crab larvae, shellfish Juan Islands and Whidbey Basin.
Funding for the study comes from the managers hope to find out where they More information can be found at http://
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. came from,” Williams said. “In their last sites.google.com/site/megalopasite.
The University of Washington also is larval stage, they are called megalops due – T. Royal
collaborating on the project. to their huge eyes. We just put the scrub-
– T. Royal bers in their path and they grab on. Having
collection stations throughout the region
Jamestown S’Klallam tribal biologist Lorna will bring in extensive data about the re-
O’Rourke samples water in Sequim Bay. gion’s fluctuating crab population and help
us better manage the harvest.”
The focus of the project is the declining
Dungeness crab population in Hood Canal.
In 2008, crab catch in the area dropped 75
percent, down from 700,000 pounds in
The tribes want to know if the crab
found in Hood Canal originated there or
if it came from the Pacific Coast or other
parts of Puget Sound.
A crab larva, known as a megalop for its large
eyes, is shown under a microscope.
Tribal Programs Preserve Steelh
Puget Sound steelhead are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endan-
gered Species Act, along with Puget Sound chinook, Lake Ozette sockeye and
Hood Canal summer chum. Treaty tribes in western Washington are preserving
the genetic traits of steelhead at hatcheries while exploring ways to restore
lost and degraded habitat.
Live Spawning Operation Moves to Tribal Hatchery
The Puyallup Tribe of Indi- of killed beforehand.
ans is rescuing a wild steelhead “By not killing the fish to
broodstock program threatened spawn them in the hatchery,
by the closure of the state’s we are allowing the fish to take
Voights Creek hatchery, which their natural course,” Smith
was heavily damaged by win- said. “Hopefully, now that they
ter floods. have a chance to come back,
“If steelhead native to this they’ll come back and spawn
watershed can’t thrive in the again.”
wild, the only option is to raise Historic low runs of Puyallup
some of them in a hatchery to River steelhead have become
ensure their survival and make common in recent years.
sure their genetic traits aren’t “With a stock on the brink,
lost,” said Blake Smith, en- every little bit helps,” Smith
hancement biologist with the said.
tribe. “Certain conditions, such For the past three years, adult
as water temperature, can be steelhead have been collected
controlled in a hatchery, so fish in a trap on the White River – a
show a higher rate of survival tributary to the Puyallup – and
there than they do in the wild.” held at Voights Creek until they
Offspring of wild Puyallup were spawned. Their offspring Lower Elwha Klalla
steelhead broodstock are raised also were raised at Voights tribe has been raisi
at a handful of state and tribal until they were transported to
hatcheries in the Puyallup Riv-
er watershed to safeguard the
the Puyallup tribal facility at
Diru Creek and finally to the Protect
population from extinction. Muckleshoot Tribe’s White The se
With the temporary closure River hatchery for release. covered w
of the Voights Creek hatch- With Voights Creek offline for a digital
ery, the tribe is continuing the at least this year, the fish will blood sam
steelhead recovery effort at be spawned and raised at Diru Elwha Kl
its Diru Creek Hatchery near until they are transported to head are
Puyallup. It’s there that some White River. measured
of the threatened, ESA-listed “Doing the spawning and nearly a
Above: Terry Sebastian, Puyallup fisheries biologist, holds
an adult steelhead at a fish trap on the White River. The steelhead are undergoing a rearing at Diru will keep the this organ
steelhead will contribute to a broodstock program oper- hand-spawning technique that program going for at least this 4-year-ol
ated jointly by the Puyallup and Muckleshoot tribes and the allows them to be released back year, but the best long-term so- These
state of Washington. Below: Air is pumped into a female into the river after their eggs or lution is to get Voights Creek – they are
steelhead to release the eggs during live spawning. milt (sperm) are collected. back up and running,” Smith broodstoc
“Unlike other salmon that al- said. After flirting with closing program
ways die soon after they spawn, Voights Creek permanently, the ing Elwh
a portion of steelhead return state legislature allocated some during th
more than once to spawn,” funds to repair the facility. River’s tw
Smith said. “A program like this brood- and 108-f
Typically, eggs and milt are stock effort is just a stop-gap Curren
taken from salmon after they measure until we can solve the can spaw
are killed. In the live spawn- habitat issues that are keeping river.
ing process, female fish are this population from sustaining Every s
injected with air to push out itself,” Smith said. “We hope lected ste
some of their eggs. Male fish we can hold on to this stock them in
are spawned in a traditional until we know what exactly is believed
manner – hand-squeezing milt happening to them.”
– but are anesthetized instead – E. O’Connell
Mapping Redds to
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians keeps a close eye on
steelhead returning to Boise Creek because it’s one of
the most popular steelhead spawning spots in the Puy-
allup River watershed.
Two tribal biologists survey Boise Creek every 10
days from March to May, counting every steelhead
they see. They also map each steelhead redd location
with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
“The GPS data gives us an almost exact location,
within a few feet, of where steelhead lay their eggs,”
said Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the
tribe. “With that information, we have another tool for
habitat and stock protection.” Tribal surveyors count-
ed 29 redds in 2008, up from 15 the year before, but
down from 88 in 2006.
The data is helping the tribe write a habitat restora-
tion plan for Boise Creek. The tribe and the city of
Enumclaw received a $120,000 grant from the state
Salmon Recovery Funding Board to explore how Boi-
se Creek could be made more hospitable to juvenile
salmon and steelhead.
“Even though a lot of steelhead and chinook return
to Boise Creek, it doesn’t mean that the creek pro-
duces a lot of juvenile fish,” Ladley said. “Right now
am hatchery technician Keith Lauderback prepares to spawn a captive-raised steelhead. The
there is a lack of quality habitat in a large section of
ing broodstock to protect the Elwha River steelhead run. the creek. We’re going to take a close look at what we
might be able to do to give salmon the biggest bang
ting Steelhead Before Dam Removal for the buck.”
Biologists catalog the mapping data in an “Annual
etup looks complicated. Two tables rally spawning stock. Fry collected in 2005 Salmon, Steelhead and Char Report” – the most com-
with data sheets, laptops, glass slides, were spawned this spring as 4-year-olds; their prehensive report on salmon populations in the Puyal-
l scale and instruments for taking progeny are expected to be released as 2-year- lup system. The tribe collects population data on all
mples are set up next to the Lower olds in 2011. species of salmon during its survey season, which be-
lallam Tribe’s hatchery ponds. Steel- “We’ve found that wild steelhead tend to gins in mid-August, continues through the winter and
pulled from the ponds and weighed, emigrate to the ocean as 2-year-olds, so we’ll ends in mid-June. The most recent report is available
d, sampled and spawned. Each of try to rear them to that age before we release online at: http://go.nwifc.org/hrw6y8. – E. O’Connell
dozen people have a specific job in them,” said Larry Ward, a fisheries biologist
nized chaos to help spawn nearly 150 and hatchery manager for the tribe. “We’ve
ld steelhead. been successful at raising the 2005 stock to
steelhead aren’t hatchery returns spawning maturity, so things are going well
e part of the tribe’s captive steelhead so far.”
ck program. The tribe started the The tribe collected blood and scale samples,
in 2005 to ensure that the remain- and kept track of the genetic makeup of each
ha River steelhead aren’t wiped out fish. Two or three males were spawned for ev-
he 2011 deconstruction of the Elwha ery female and the fertilized eggs are incubat-
wo dams: the 210-foot Glines Canyon ing in the tribe’s hatchery. More than 250,000
foot Elwha. eggs were taken and fertilized this spring.
ntly, fish cannot get past the dams and Collaborators on the project include the
wn only in the lower five miles of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-
tration, Washington Department of Fish and
summer since 2005, the tribe has col- Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Funding
eelhead fry from the river and raised for the project comes from the Pacific Coastal
its hatchery. The fry collected are Salmon Recovery Fund. – T. Royal
to be remnants of the river’s natu-
Puyallup biologist Terry Sebastian surveys Boise Creek for
Skagit Nearshore Studies Crucial to Salmon Recovery
Nearly every day from spring through salinity, depth, velocity and observe the gineers for the Deepwater Slough restora-
early fall, somewhere in the Skagit basin substrate and vegetation. As a result, SRSC, tion. At the time of completion in 2000,
and San Juan Islands, a crew from the the natural resources arm of the Swinom- it was the largest estuarine project on the
Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) ish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes, has a 15-year West Coast. But $50,000 was only 2 per-
is sampling fish populations. (and counting) comprehensive database of cent of the total project cost and it wasn’t
Rain or shine, in smooth waters or blus- the way fish use nearshore habitat. enough, Beamer said.
tery wind, the crew pulls beach seines and The nearshore is a nursery for a variety Beyond measuring the effectiveness of
sets fyke traps to count and measure fish of fish including sculpins, perch, smelt, a particular project, long-term monitoring
before returning them to the water. Crew herring and salmon. Puget Sound chinook on a larger scale is essential to understand-
members also record water temperature, salmon, listed as “threatened” under the ing and maintaining salmon recovery.
federal Endangered Species Act, depend “It’s nice when monitoring confirms
on estuaries for extended rearing during what we think is happening,” Beamer said.
outmigration. “But monitoring results are especially im-
Monitoring is a crucial, yet often un- portant when things don’t go exactly as
derfunded, aspect of the salmon recovery planned.” – K. Neumeyer
effort, said Eric Beamer, SRSC’s research
director. Without it, nobody knows wheth-
er a restoration project did what it was sup- SRSC intends to monitor whether
posed to do. chinook populations are increas-
“Restoration science is rather new and ing or decreasing in response to
the designs used are often untested and multiple factors including:
unique by site,” Beamer said. “It is critical ● Habitat restoration that has
to learn what actually happens at sites. The occurred.
restoration might work better than predict- ● Existing habitat that is or is
ed, worse than predicted, or just different not protected.
than predicted. If we monitor, we can find ● Environmental changes such
out what actually happens and often take as global climate change,
corrective action.” which could alter flooding,
SRSC technicians Jason Boome (left), Upper SRSC’s best example of funding to sea levels and marine
Skagit, and Jeremy Cayou Jr., Swinomish, look monitor the effectiveness of a project was survival conditions for
for juvenile salmon in a beach seine in the $50,000 from the U.S. Army Corps of En- salmon.
Shellfish Remain Safe Despite Dioxin in Oakland Bay Sediment
Preliminary data released recently by Without continual industrial output, di-
the state Department of Ecology has iden- ‘The tribe is committed to oxin levels in sediment and shellfish de-
tified dioxin in sediment throughout Oak- do whatever is necessary to cline over time. “It’s not surprising that
land Bay. clean up the bay.’ shellfish accumulate very little dioxin and
Outside of Shelton Harbor, the dioxin are safe to eat,” Konovsky said. “This is
is distributed uniformly with an aver- ANDY WHITENER, because dioxin builds up in fatty tissue and
age concentration of 35 parts per trillion natural resources director, shellfish have a very low fat content.”
(ppt). Dioxins are a byproduct of industrial Squaxin Island Tribe Scientists from the state Department of
processes, such as papermaking or metal Health also believe that dioxin in the sedi-
smelting, but are also produced naturally ment of Oakland Bay does not pose a pub-
in small amounts. Dioxins can cause can- • In Similk, Fidalgo and Padilla bays, a lic health concern for shellfish consumers.
cer, thyroid disorders and damage the im- 2006 study by the Swinomish Tribe iden- When discovered in sediments elsewhere
mune system. tified a range of concentrations of organic around Puget Sound, dioxin in shellfish
“At first glance, the distribution pattern compounds including dioxin in sediment, has never been found at levels of public
suggests the dioxin may be a historical leg- but levels in shellfish from those same health concern.
acy,” said John Konovsky, Squaxin Island sites were more uniform and much lower. “Oakland Bay has always been a favor-
Tribe’s environmental program manager. The report also suggested that health risks ite spot for tribal members to dig clams,”
Oakland Bay is a productive shellfish from sediment exposure – such as digging said Andy Whitener, the tribe’s natural re-
growing area. Studies elsewhere suggest for clams – are even lower than eating sources director. “The tribe is committed
there is little connection between dioxin shellfish. to working with state and federal govern-
concentrations found in sediment and con- • A 2007 Humboldt Bay study conclud- ments to do whatever is necessary to clean
tamination in shellfish: ed that dioxin concentrations in shellfish up the bay. We want to absolutely guaran-
• In a 2008 Ecology report on neighbor- tissue were independent of dioxin levels in tee the health of our tribal members and
ing Budd Inlet, sediment samples showed sediment. All the tissue directly tested and the entire community.” – E. O’Connell
dioxin concentrations ranging from 3 to 60 most reported in the worldwide literature
ppt, but concentrations in littleneck/manila was below concentrations considered to be
clam samples averaged 0.5 ppt. a risk to human health.
Donated Trees Add to Fish Habitat
More than 100 trees that have fallen into “Trees that wash into the lake from the
the reservoir behind Alder Dam will be river and get stuck behind the dam need
put to use in engineered logjams to create to be removed before they become a nui-
salmon habitat on Ohop Creek. sance,” said David Troutt, natural resourc-
es manager for the Nisqually Tribe, which
is spearheading the effort to gather the
logs. “We’re just taking them out and put-
ting them to good use.”
Juvenile salmon find both food and shel-
ter within logjams. The structures also
slow the flow of the creek, easing adult
“We know logjams benefit salmon be-
cause we’ve been monitoring other resto-
ration projects. We really see a difference
in the sections of river with logjams and
those without,” Troutt said. “There are a E. O’Connell
lot more salmon around the logjams.” A truck carrying logs for a nearby habitat res-
The lake and dam are owned by Tacoma toration project negotiates a tight turn on the
Power, which is turning the trees over to Alder Lake dam.
the tribe for free, to use in the restoration
project. The tribe only has to pay for trans- Restoring Ohop Creek is important be-
porting them to a storage site. cause it is one of only two tributaries to the
To restore Ohop Creek, the tribe and Nisqually River that produce chinook.
the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhance- “If some catastrophic event – for ex-
ment Group will dig a new mile-long creek ample a devastating flood – were to wipe
channel and build logjams. out the entire population of chinook along
“Ohop right now is basically a long the mainstem, salmon from Ohop Creek
straight ditch, which is not a very good would be able to repopulate the rest of the
place for salmon,” said Kim Gridley, proj- river,” Troutt said. “By having separate
Florian Leischner, restoration biologist with
the Nisqually Tribe, marks a log recently re- ect manager for the enhancement group. populations in different rivers and creeks
moved from Alder Lake to be used in a resto- “The project will create a richer, more var- within the same watershed, you strengthen
ration project. ied habitat for salmon.” the entire population.” – E. O’Connell
Hoh Tribe: A New Direction
acre reservation to about 450 our tribal center and housing ited under the agreement. We
acres and much of the remain- out of the path of the river. So are now waiting for approval
ing land floods annually. far, we have acquired 160 acres from Congress.
We, as Hoh people, had a from the state Department of In the meantime, we plan to
choice: Build expensive dikes Natural Resources and 270 begin construction on a new
or other structures – which acres from private landowners public safety building this
can protect the riverbank but about a mile outside the res- summer on some of the newly
hurt fish habitat – or move out ervation and the Hoh River’s purchased land. This will be
of harm’s way. Salmon are the floodplain. But the parcels are a valuable resource for both
lifeblood of our people, and separated from the reservation tribal and local public safety
we didn’t want to do anything by 37 acres of former timber- officers.
that would hurt them. We rely lands now owned by Olympic Our decision was difficult,
on fishing both culturally and National Park (ONP). The only but we believe this is a good so-
Hoh Tribal Chair Walter Ward
economically on a reservation road to the reservation already lution for the people, the river
A study of the Hoh River’s where unemployment exceeds crosses this sliver of land. and the salmon.
migrating main channel shows 70 percent. We have decided We have worked with ONP Walter Ward is the Hoh tribal
that it will be running right to move rather than hurt the to develop an agreement to chairman.
through our tribal center with- salmon. transfer title of the 37 acres to
in the next 25 years. The river We are encouraged by the the tribe. Logging, hunting and
already has whittled our 640- help we are receiving to move construction would be prohib-
Quinault indian nation
Logjams Prove Their Worth on Quinault
Land use practices in the upper get the job done. “Because of the success
Quinault River valley removed of the pilot project, we have secured sig-
most of the mature forests and nificant support from the local Quinault
large wood from the river and Valley community and other stakeholders
its floodplain, destabilizing the for future projects in the watershed, setting
river. Side-channel salmon habi- the stage for a collaborative restoration ef-
tat has been disappearing from fort,” Armstrong said.
the upper Quinault as the river
channel moves rapidly across
its floodplain. There once were
‘It was also the first time that
more than 55 miles of sockeye a net loss of sockeye salmon
spawning side-channel habitat spawning habitat was avoided
along the river; now there are in this watershed.’
fewer than 5 miles.
The timing of the pilot project BILL ARMSTRONG,
couldn’t have been better. salmon resources scientist,
“The river has responded to Quinault Indian Nation
Larry Workman/Quinault Indian Nation
Quinault tribal member Kurtis Eckersley plants trees on the engineered logjams in the
one of 13 engineered logjams on the upper Quinault River way we expected,” said Bill
while a backhoe digs a hole deep enough to keep cotton- Armstrong, salmon resources QIN also is returning the forest to 12
wood roots in water through the long summer. scientist for the QIN. “The pri- miles of barren floodplain in the upper
mary objectives of the project Quinault River watershed, in one of the
Nearly one year after completion, the were to protect the entrance of this im- most ambitious river restoration plans in
Quinault Indian Nation’s (QIN) pilot res- portant side channel used by sockeye for the lower 48 states. More than 1,000 spe-
toration of the upper Quinault River is pro- spawning and to re-establish new surfaces cies of sitka spruce, Douglas fir, red alder
tecting critical sockeye spawning habitat for floodplain reforestation planting. We and black cottonwood poles were planted
and re-establishing river channel stability. have met those objectives. It was also the at the site this spring. Care was taken to
Thirteen engineered logjams (ELJs) in- first time that a net loss of sockeye salmon ensure roots were put deep enough to re-
stalled last summer in the river above Lake spawning habitat was avoided in this wa- ceive water even in the summer months.
Quinault subtly deflected high river flows tershed – it is a very exciting time.” The second phase of the project involves
away from an Alder Creek side channel, Protecting salmon habitat wasn’t the building more than 100 ELJs over two
one of the few remaining areas used by only successful outcome of the pilot proj- years in a section of river below the first
sockeye, or blueback, salmon for spawn- ect. Just as important was successfully project site. Engineers are now designing
ing. Sockeye are culturally and economi- demonstrating the upper Quinault River those projects. Work should begin this
cally vital to the QIN. restoration strategy and QIN’s ability to summer. – D. Preston
QIN Fixes Culverts for Fish
A small-scale “bridge to nowhere” on a fish access to prime habitat.” The nation is
tributary to the Quinault River illustrates partnering with other agencies such as the
one of the many forest road problems the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is trying to and Salmon Recovery Funding Board to
fix. fix the highest priority blockages first.
A bridge that once spanned the creek The “bridge to nowhere” is one such
now sits on the streambed after several project slated for repair this summer. The
years of high winter streamflows. Vehicles bridge will be relocated, and the road even-
crossing the creek actually drive through tually decommissioned. A pond created by
the stream, possibly damaging salmon egg a clan of beavers will be kept to provide
nests (redds). over-wintering habitat for salmon, particu-
QIN is halfway through a two-year sur- larly young coho.
vey of more than 2,000 miles of roads on Kaiser likens the search for the culverts
its reservation, to identify, prioritize and and other problems to an odd treasure
Nicole Kaiser, QIN habitat biologist, stands on
fix problems. hunt, because the reservation contains ap- a “bridge to nowhere” on a tributary to the
“These roads were constructed when the proximately 2,250 miles of roads, many of Quinault River.
federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and their which have not been visited for more than
contractors ran large, multi-decade timber 40 years. A certified surveyor and techni- and full priority list for repairing problems.
sale contracts on the Quinault reservation,” cian from Lewis County Conservation Dis- “There are so many simple fixes that do big
said Nicole Kaiser, tribal fish habitat biolo- trict is conducting the culvert inventory. things for fish habitat,” Kaiser said.
gist. “There are a lot of undersized culverts As the survey nears completion next – D. Preston
that either partially or completely block year, the nation will establish a timeline
noRth of falcon
Lorraine Loomis: Hard Work Brings Results
C ooperative co-management continues to point the way to wild
salmon recovery in western Washington. “If we didn’t truly be-
lieve we can rebuild these stocks, we wouldn’t be working as hard as
Born and raised
on the Swinomish
we do,” said Lorraine Loomis, Swinomish tribal fisheries manager. Loomis grew up fish-
ing with her brothers
This year marks the 25th anniver- al court ruling that required fisheries Claude, Tandy Jr.,
sary of the North of Falcon (NOF) management on a river-by-river basis Vince and Marv. All
cooperative salmon season setting – the tribes and state began to look of her children fish
process for treaty and non-treaty fish- at meeting each other’s needs while as well. Her father,
eries in western Washington. Loomis still recovering salmon. Tandy Wilbur Sr., K. Neumeyer
has coordinated tribal participation Since its early days, NOF has was general man- Lorraine Loomis greets
in NOF since the beginning. been driven by the need to protect ager of the tribe for NWIFC Chairman Billy
“There wasn’t a lot of trust at first,” the weakest salmon stocks. “We still more than 40 years. Frank Jr. at the Swinomish
she said. “The tribes and state would have those weak stocks,” Loomis Her mother, Laura, Blessing of the Fleet and
develop their fisheries management said. “It’s difficult to recover them served on the tribal First Salmon Ceremony.
data separately.” Loomis credits without recovering their habitat at senate for more than 50 years.
Bill Wilkerson, then director of the the same time.” Her career in fisheries management started at
Washington Department of Fisher- Still, Loomis is optimistic. “The the tribe’s fish processing plant. From cleaning to
ies, with helping to ignite change. Skagit is doing better,” she said. “We smoking and freezing fish, she did it all, working
Tribal and state biologists began are doing a lot of habitat work, as her way up to assistant manager of the plant.
working together to develop a unified much as we can. We are also moni- Then, just after the 1974 Boldt decision that
set of fisheries management data that toring these projects for their ben- re-affirmed tribes’ treaty-reserved fishing rights,
all parties could accept. “Developing efits to salmon.” Swinomish tribal leaders asked if she would serve
agreed-upon data was a real turning Much NOF work lies ahead. New as fisheries manager. “I thought it was going to be
point,” she said. fishery models are needed, espe- easier, but it wasn’t,” she said. “I’m still working
Another was a shift to inside-out cially in light of expanded catch and 14 hours some days, but I find it rewarding. I just
fisheries management. “We began release mark-selective sport fisher- love working with fish, anything to do with fish.”
to develop outside (ocean) fisheries ies, she said, adding that state budget While fish and shellfish management has filled
for treaty and non-treaty fishermen cutbacks are especially troubling. her plate over the past several decades, Loomis
to ensure that inside (Puget Sound) At 25, NOF remains a difficult also was called on to negotiate the tribe’s gaming
rivers reach escapement. Everyone process, but there isn’t a better one, compact with the state of Washington.
began sharing the burden of conser- Loomis said. She serves as U.S. chair of the bilateral Fraser
vation and benefits of harvest,” she “This is our process. It is co-man- River Panel that manages sockeye under the U.S./
said. agement, sharing conservation and Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty. She is secretary
Something else happened, too. sharing the benefits.” She encourages of the Skagit River System Cooperative board of
“Bill asked me what my needs were anyone with an interest in fisheries to directors. The cooperative is the natural resources
on the Skagit River. I was baffled,” get involved in NOF. management arm of the Swinomish and Sauk-
Loomis said. “No one from the state “It is a good process, and the only Suiattle tribes. In addition, Loomis has served for
had ever asked me that question.” one we have,” she said. “We have to more than 30 years as a commissioner for the
Accelerated by the changes – fos- make it work.” – T. Meyer Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, most of
tered under Hoh v. Baldrige, a feder- them as vice-chair. She recently was re-elected to
Bee Camas Aware
Camas blooms on a small prairie south of
Forks. Pacific Northwest tribes have used
camas culturally and for food for millennia.
Stories abound regarding Lewis and Clark
learning to eat camas from Northwest tribes.
However, camas prairies are disappearing
throughout western Washington, due to ur-
banization. Some tribes are investigating ways
to return camas prairies by burning and seed-
ing appropriate areas to re-introduce the
plant where it once grew.
D. Preston 1
Deer, Elk Continue to
Sustain Tribal Culture
Makah tribal member Jeremiah Johnson remembers
as a boy hunting with his uncle. “I started hunting when
I was 12 years old,” Johnson said. “I learned from my
family members. This is traditional knowledge passed on
from generation to generation.”
Learning from their ancestors and gaining intimate
knowledge of their homelands is part of subsistence hunt-
ing for all Makah tribal hunters. The Makah Tribe always
has relied on elk and deer to sustain them and used all
parts of the animal for tools and regalia. Only elk antlers
were used to make harpoon barbs for whaling. Today,
deer and elk meat help feed families in the remote village
of Neah Bay while contributing to cultural and spiritual
The tribe is conducting several research projects to bet-
ter understand the numbers of elk calves and black-tail
deer fawns born each year and how many of them survive Rob McCoy/Makah Tribe
to maturity. An elk calf models his radio-tracking collar during a study conducted
“Without this kind of specific knowledge, it can be by the Makah Tribe.
easy to overestimate the expected rate of increase in a
population and make mistakes in harvest management those that don’t survive, and the number of males and
plans,” said Rob McCoy, wildlife division manager for females to reach adulthood in each herd.
the Makah Tribe. Johnson, one of the technicians, loves being a part of
Radio-tracking collars are placed on elk calves, allow- managing the resource that is so important to him and
ing Makah wildlife biologists and technicians to record his tribe.
how many survive the first year, the cause of death for “People in the village are always asking me questions
about the research we’re doing and how it helps us,” John-
son said. “It’s important work.”
This is the first year of the elk calf study and the fourth
year of a black-tail deer study. “We put 20 elk calf col-
lars out this spring and we have a grant pending to con-
tinue this study for two more years,” McCoy said. As the
calves mature, they are recaptured and fitted with larger
The tribe already has conducted several studies about
the elk populations on and around their reservation. One
of the studies looked at the quantity and quality of forage
and how it affects reproduction rates. Limited and poor
quality forage tends to limit elk calf births to every other
“To make an informed decision about harvest levels,
we need this information,” McCoy said.
Long-term partnerships with the Washington Depart-
ment of Fish and Wildlife and volunteers from KBH Ar-
chers in Bremerton have assisted greatly in the effort to
protect and enhance wildlife resources.
“We couldn’t do this important research without the
volunteers,” McCoy said. “We’re grateful for the assis-
tance we’ve received over the years.” – D. Preston
Jeremiah Johnson, Makah wildlife technician,
helps put up a temporary net used to catch
1-year-old black-tail deer.
Faster Response to Stranded Marine Mammals
Makah tribal member Seraphina Pe- “Better response time improves pro-
ters peers through binoculars at a rock tection of human and canine health,” he
covered with seals and sea lions near said. “By getting to these sick marine
Neah Bay. Her boat bobbing in the ocean mammals sooner, we can minimize the
waves, she notes the type and number of potential of the spread of these diseas-
each and records them. es.”
As marine mammal stranding coor- Sea lions, for instance, may carry lep-
dinator for the tribe, Peters’ primary tospirosis, a disease that affects the kid-
duty is to monitor the tribe’s 24-hour neys and is frequently fatal. If humans
hotline to dispatch rescuers to marine or dogs come into close contact with a
mammals stranded on nearby beaches. sick sea lion or its feces, that infection
Peters also assists with research such may spread.
as marine mammal surveys within the Scordino was forced once to eutha-
Makah treaty-reserved fishing areas. nize a sea otter that was clearly un-
healthy. The otter carried wounds indi-
cating that he’d had a fight with a dog on
the beach. The otter was later found to
have canine distemper, a disease often
fatal to dogs.
Layers of fat that insulate marine
mammals from the ocean’s cold water
causes them to overheat when they be-
come stranded on a beach. Once a ma-
rine mammal has died, the insulation of
the fat also traps heat within the body,
causing animal’s organs to decompose
quickly. The decomposition makes de-
Two sea otters frolic near Neah Bay in the Strait
of Juan de Fuca. Biologists count otters and pho- termining the cause of death almost im- D. Preston
Seraphina Peters, Makah marine mammal strand-
tograph them when possible to identify individual possible, Scordino said. ing coordinator, uses binoculars to get a better
animals by their nose scars. “Getting to these animals in a timely look at seals and sea lions.
manner allows us to perform necrop-
“Having Seraphina available really sies to determine the cause of death and their hair annually, as well as to breed
helps improve our response time to ma- gives us clues to trends in marine mam- and give birth. Peters kept other people
rine mammals on the beach,” said Jona- mal populations,” Scordino said. away until the seal ambled back into the
than Scordino, marine mammal biolo- Peters, a veteran of the tribe’s fisher- water.
gist for the Makah Tribe. ies program, already has responded to “It was exciting,” she said. “This is
Marine mammals such as seals can a stranding. A several-hundred-pound really interesting work.” To report a ma-
carry diseases fatal to humans and dogs elephant seal was on the beach to molt. rine mammal stranding in the area, call
visiting local beaches. Elephant seals come ashore to shed (360) 640-0569. – D. Preston
In this photo from the
1920s, Makah tribal mem-
ber Lighthouse Jim stands
next to his whaling canoe
in Neah Bay, holding a har-
poon. A seal float is visible
in the canoe.
Courtesy of Makah Cultural and Research Center via the Washington State Historical Society