Pink Salmon Returning in Larger Numbers to Nisqually River

NISQUALLY (October 11, 2005) – The Nisqually Tribe’s salmon surveyors are seeing more pink salmon in one day than they used to see in the entire year. “During one stretch we counted more than 200 pink salmon,” said Craig Smith, tribal harvest management biologist. “There were so many pinks, we weren’t able to count them all. There haven’t been this many pinks seen in 20 years.”

“While we don’t know all the factors that led to the big run this year, we do know that one reason had to be good spawning habitat,” said Jeanette Dorner, salmon recovery for the tribe. Pink salmon typically return to the Nisqually in such small numbers that little is known about the run.

Unlike other salmon species, pink salmon only spawn every other year. “Their offspring spend very little time in freshwater and move out to the ocean very quickly,” said Dorner. “Then they spend two years in saltwater and come back to spawn.”

The sudden resurgence of pink salmon in the Nisqually follows the boom-and-bust life cycle of pinks in other watersheds. The Puyallup River pink run nearly topped 300,000 two years ago after nearly a decade of runs peaking at 20,000 fish. “While Nisqually River pinks have much further to go until they reach the kinds of numbers we’ve seen in other places, its very heartening to see more come back this year,” said Dorner.

The tribe and its partners in the watershed are working on a recovery plan for that includes all species of salmon, including pink. The Nisqually Multi-Species Plan will help focus restoration efforts on habitat important to all species of salmon that return to the Nisqually watershed.

“Each species of salmon has different habitat needs,” said Dorner. “We need to protect and restore habitat across a wide cross-section of the watershed to make sure salmon come back in strong numbers.”


For more information, contact: Jeanette Dorner, salmon recovery manager, Nisqually Tribe, (360) 438-8687. Emmett O’Connell, South Sound information officer, NWIFC, (360) 528-4304, [email protected]