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they hatched without any human intervention. To assure changes in steelhead populations are due to their efforts, the team also survey fish in three other rivers with no supplementation to control for natural variation. This work to help wild steelhead by rearing them in the protected context of a conservation hatchery is a critical backstop, as the populations have been on the decline for decades. One hundred years ago, steelhead returns to the Puget Sound region ranged from 325,000 to 800,000 annually. Today, that number has declined to roughly 13,000. Five distinct populations of Washington steelhead, including Puget Sound/Hood Canal steelhead, are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. When the Hood Canal Steelhead Project’s early precedent-setting research began on the Hamma Hamma River, less than 20 adult steelhead were returning each year to spawn. After several years of hatchery-rearing the young fish to give them better odds of successfully facing the pressures brought about by a changing climate, overfishing, and other environmental factors, more than 100 steelhead now return to the Hamma Hamma annually (Inset, Top to Bottom) Long without human Live the Kings staff pump a assistance. steelhead redd-- or nest-- on “This project the Duckabush. Separating the demonstrates eggs from the gravel pumped that great from a steelhead redd. Eyed--or things can fertilized--eggs are measured and happen with a recorded before being transported well-developed to the hatchery for rearing. plan, welldefined goals, and a cooperative effort,” says Joy. In addition to driving real results in terms of the increased numbers of wild steelhead returning, the Hood Canal Steelhead Project is also helping to answer critical questions about the benefits and risks of conservation hatchery programs and the basic life-history 32

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HARBORS Fall/Winter 2013  

The Seaplane and Boating Destination Magazine

HARBORS Fall/Winter 2013  

The Seaplane and Boating Destination Magazine

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