Juvenile Chinook use pocket estuaries near natal rivers

Eric Beamer, Juvenile Chinook salmon use of small non-natal estuaries  in the Whidbey Basin, eastern Admiralty Inlet, and the San Juan Islands

Most of our juveniles are coming from the Skagit, accumulating early in the year (feb-may, some years as early as december, often associated with floods).  Pocket estuaries are safer places (most fish are too small to eat fry) and maybe better (warmer?) places to grow.  Abundance (e.g. 1000s of fish/hecatre in Skagit Bay) is higher than in adjacent nearshore environments.  On outer (W) Whidbey island pocket estuaries, juveniles are smaller and arrive later (may/june).

San Juan Islands

  • fry-sized Chinook: spencer spit; third lagoon; jackson’s lagoon (only July); False Bay (April, but probably released from within the creek)
  • some other salmon seen, but not much higher use than adjacent environments

There are lots of other fish in these pocket estuaries: juvenile smelt, shiner perch (birthing), sculpins.

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