Scientists report ‘surprisingly strong return’ of endangered salmon species: ‘This is significant as we continue our goal of improving habitat in these watersheds’

May 14, 2024 | by

In a heartening turn of events, endangered coho salmon are making a comeback to a Bay Area creek, offering hope for the species’ recovery.

As reported by SFGate, the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network’s coho and steelhead monitoring team were dismayed to find no live coho salmon returning to spawn in the creeks they monitored last year. However, recent surveys indicate a “surprisingly strong return” for the species after the spawning season wrapped up earlier this month.

Biologists recorded over 70 coho salmon nests, known as redds, in Olema Creek, a significant increase from the last spawning season three years ago. One biologist, Michael Riechmuth, counted 150 adult coho salmon in a single day, marking possibly the best spawning season in the creek in over 15 years.

The increase in the coho salmon population is due to a larger number of young salmon making it to the ocean and finding better conditions for feeding. According to Reichmuth, this growth is a result of the improved habitat in the Olema and Redwood Creek watersheds.

“For both Olema and Redwood Creeks this is significant as we continue our goal of improving habitat in these watersheds,” Reichmuth said.

This news isn’t just good for salmon or San Francisco alone. It has broader implications within our environment, too.

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The coho salmon’s resurgence benefits humans by supporting local fisheries and economies, in addition to providing recreational opportunities when the salmon spawn. The National Park Service also offers training and volunteer programs for anyone interested in helping protect the resilient species.

Biodiversity is essential for the health of our planet, as the United Nations explained. Each species, like a player on a sports team, has a unique role in keeping ecosystems balanced and functioning properly. When a species disappears, it’s like losing a key player, which can disrupt the entire system.

Recent studies, like one from Charles Darwin University, show that conservation efforts can make a big difference. For instance, they’ve helped bring back 29 species from the brink of extinction. Recovering species populations help keep ecosystems in balance, which is crucial for things like clean water, healthy soil, and the pollination of plants, including many food crops.

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