The Puyallup Tribe of Indians finished up their annual bull trout surveys this week, and so far they’ve found a record number of redds — egg nests — laid in the upper White River watershed.
Below is a video with some underwater footage taken by tribal biologist Eric Marks:
This is the tenth year the tribe has been looking for bull trout and the second in a row they’ve found a record number of the federally protected fish. While there is little direct evidence, tribal staff think the record number of pink salmon returning is contributing to boosting bull trout:
A record number of adult bull trout and juvenile steelhead migrated through the Puyallup River watershed this year, boosted by nutrients from a massive run of pink salmon two years ago.
“There was simply more food in the system in the last couple of years because decaying pink salmon carcasses fed practically every sort of organism in the river,” said Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the Puyallup Tribe. “This shows that salmon restoration doesn’t just benefit one species, because all of the species in the river are interconnected.”
The tribe counted more than 100 bull trout – the entire run – at a trap on the White River, a tributary to the Puyallup, where fish are collected before being trucked over Mud Mountain Dam. While still a small return, it was more than double the previous record return in 2003.
The number of streams the tribe surveys in the upper White River has expanded from 3 in 2000 to 12 in 2010. Some of these streams were found because the tribe has radio tagged some of the bull trout caught in an adult trap.