Recently completed snorkeling and electrofishing surveys estimate survival of more than 12,000 young fingerlings released last spring into Palmer, Sheephouse and Gray creeks at 54, 60 and 71 percent, respectively.
"We're thrilled to see these kinds of numbers," said Paul Olin, director of the University of California's Sea Grant Extension Program (SGEP) and one of the partners in the Russian River coho recovery program. "Coho spend their first year and a half in fresh water, which presents extraordinary survival challenges. To see significantly more than half the juvenile fish released last spring survive to the fall is a very hopeful sign."
Young coho have been planted in Russian River tributaries by personnel from the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) three times since October 2004, when 6,160 fingerlings were first released. Winter survival estimates for the first batch of young fish ranged as high as 56 percent. They migrated out to the ocean last spring and are expected to make their return as adult spawners about a year from now. An additional 14,000 coho fingerlings were released into the creeks in the fall of 2005. Those spring- and fall-planted fish that survive the winter will migrate to the ocean next spring.
Not unlike the effort to save the California condor from extinction, the effort to save Russian River coho is a "captive broodstock" program. Individual members of a species are taken from the wild and reared in captivity. Winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River are experiencing a dramatic return from near extinction following a similar recovery effort. Other efforts to restore coho populations exist elsewhere in California and the Pacific Northwest, but t
Contact: John Stumbos
California Sea Grant