Salmon fingerlings in Edmonds – 05/31/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm #508

    Officials rule out illegal dumping or toxic spills as the reason
    thousands of hatchery fingerlings died.
    By Lukas Velush
    Herald Writer

    EDMONDS – Water tests show a major toxic spill or illegal dumping
    isn’t to blame for the deaths of 9,500 fingerling salmon at a
    hatchery here last week, leading experts to believe polluted storm
    water runoff is likely to blame.

    Preliminary results confirm that gasoline, chemicals or other
    poisonous material were not dumped into the hatchery on Willow Creek,
    said Larry Altose, a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology.

    Urban stream experts say it’s common for fish kills to occur when a
    heavy downpour follows a long dry period, which is what happened in
    the Willow Creek watershed recently.

    “There’s a lot of rooftops, asphalt and driveways around Willow
    Creek,” said Tom Murdoch, executive director of the Everett-based
    Adopt-A-Stream Foundation.

    He said nasty stuff such as fecal coliform, oils and other fish-
    killing pollutants build up on such surfaces when there’s no rain to
    wash them away.

    When rain finally comes, it washes a higher concentration of the
    toxins into urban streams that normally already are carrying high
    amounts of pollutants.

    The result is often bad news for fish.

    “Young salmon in hatcheries like this are like canaries in a mine,”
    Murdoch said, saying that all of the urban streams in southwest
    Snohomish County have pollution problems. “When those guys go belly
    up, you’ve got problems.”

    A half-dozen cutthroat trout also were killed, a major blow for tiny
    Willow Creek, which was just seeing the species start to rebound,
    said Walt Thompson, manager of the hatchery.

    About 500 hatchery salmon survived, but those won’t be released into
    open waters for several weeks to make sure they have a good chance of

    Each year the hatchery gets about 80,000 salmon eggs from the
    Issaquah salmon hatchery, Thompson said. Once they hatch and grow big
    enough, the salmon gradually are released into streams feeding into
    Lake Washington.

    The last 10,000 were being held back so kids could see them as part
    of the Edmonds Waterfront Festival running Thursday through Sunday.

    “We normally have an open house,” Thompson said, adding that it’s an
    opportunity for kids to learn about salmon.

    That education day is in danger of not happening, because there are
    only 500 salmon and because the truckload of trout normally brought
    in for them to fish won’t likely arrive because the water may not be

    The hatchery’s Deer Creek name stuck even though its on Willow Creek,
    a problem identified after the name had taken hold, Thompson said.
    Laebugten Salmon Chapter of Trout Unlimited operates the hatchery.

The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.