KUOW: Measuring sediment and salmon egg nests in the Elwha River

Here is the latest video report from KUOW  and EarthFix on the progress of the restoration efforts of the Elwha River. This report explores how scientists are taking sediment samples from the river. Nearly 20 million cubic yards of sediment have built up behind the dams for nearly a century; A portion of this material is now being released downriver as the dams are slowly dismantled. The report also discusses how salmon have been observed laying eggs in the river already.

From the story:

(NOAA biologist John) McMillan and biologists with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe have found almost 100 other egg sacks like this one in the Elwha and her tributaries.

These eggs were laid by coho from the tribal hatchery near the mouth of the river, but they are descended from native Elwha coho salmon. This winter hundreds of adult hatchery coho were transported above the first dam. [Here’s a link to the video of the transport.]

Mike McHenry, a biologist with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, says even though the parents of these eggs are from the hatchery, the offspring will grow up wild.

“For all practical purposes they will be living in natural habitats and adapting and being subjected to natural selection and doing their thing,” he says. “It’s game on. We’re into recolonization now.”

These coho eggs will hatch in early spring. The young will hang out in the river for about 18 months and then head to the ocean. By the time they come back, the dams will be gone.