Coho salmon spawning, wheel of life turning before our eyes

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If litter on the beach saddens me, which it does, the return of salmon and steelhead to spawn in our local creeks makes me happy.

Coho, party of two your gravel is ready. Coho party of two.

Red male and darker female coho salmon spawning on Lagunitas Creek, 9 Decmber, 2012 ©Richard James

Fish that were eggs three years ago are now returning to lay eggs, usually in the very same creek they themselves hatched in. Once this task is done, the fish will linger until they die. This could be a few days or a couple weeks depending on the condition of the fish, the presence of predators as well as water levels.

Female coho carry about three thousand eggs. If 2 percent make it to adulthood and spawn 3 years from now, that is considered a huge success.

The ten minute video you can watch below was shot on Lagunitas Creek near the Leo Cronin viewing pools in Samuel Taylor Park. I apologize for the intrusive title. I must be doing something right as my work is being used without my permission more and more. Marking it ensures I am credited for my efforts. If you’d like to license my work for your use, contact me at info@coastodian.org. Financial support allows me to continue documenting our natural world and hopefully galvanize mindful action to protect it from us.

If you want to see spawning salmon in person, now is the time.

For the best chance at seeing fish here are some tips:

1) Quiet. Keep voices down, the fish can hear you and will spook off their redds (nests) if you are too loud.

2) Dress in neutral or darker colors, nothing flashy or bright, they can see you too.

3) Be still. Lots of movement will also scare them off the redd.

4) Bring polarized sun-glasses to cut the glare on the water. Binoculars are good too.

5) Leave pets at home. Barking dogs and lots of movement distracts fish from this most important task

6) Ideally, view fish from just downstream if you can, that way they are less likely to see you and your time to view them will be greater.

Click the full screen icon in the lower right corner of the video window and spend some time in nature.

Enjoy

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