SOS: Save Our Salmon

November 2, 2009
By AWScienceGeek GOLD, Los Gatos, California
AWScienceGeek GOLD, Los Gatos, California
16 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Do you love fishing or eating salmon? What if you couldn’t fish anymore? What if salmon got too expensive to have on the dinner table? It’s already happening. Pacific Coho salmon in California are on the verge of extinction. For the first time in history, the salmon fishing season has been suspended off the Oregon and Californian coasts! Why should you care? Salmon is a 2 billion dollar industry in California! What would happen if we lost that? Not only the fishermen would be hurt, but the hotels and restaurants too. Why? Because people come to California for salmon fishing, we will lose tourist business. What’s all this salmon business about anyways?
Climate Connections. That was the theme of this last year for the FIRST Lego League challenge, which includes building and programming robots out of Lego and doing a research project. For the research portion, we find a problem in our community and propose a solution to that problem. So what exactly is causing our Coho salmon to go extinct? Coho salmon in the Lagunitas Creek watershed (in Marin County by Tomales Bay), used to return in thousands to the creek where they were born. Today, only one hundred pairs of salmon return to spawn. Coho salmon are dying in San Geronimo because of drought, water diversion, and habitat loss. Creeks are drying up, and if salmon have no water, they die. Although, there are laws that protect Coho salmon, they aren't enforced due to lack of staff or funding. Someone dumped 600 gallons of fire retardant foam into the river and got away with it! People also pump water from their wells, but it depletes the ground water. When it rains, paved roads or concrete prevent water from flowing into the underground water reservoir. What can you do to help the Coho salmon and ourselves?
The main part of our solution is building nurseries along the creek, which means we need to convince the neighbors along San Geronimo Creek to install nurseries in their backyards. Nurseries are little pens in the river that raise the fertilized eggs into fry and then release them back into the river. If we can’t get these nurseries installed, then we may have to resort to hatcheries. Hatcheries may have to be a last resort because Coho salmon are facing extinction. However, hatcheries need critical improvements. Some of these improvements include making a creek type of background so that the salmon can camouflage accordingly to the actual creek environment, and feeding salmon at the bottom of the tank, where they can learn that they are supposed to grub around the bottom of the creek for food.
What can you do to help? Conserve water. You know, turning off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth, watering your plants with recycled grey water, etc. For more information, go to We as a community can help by digging natural pools to replenish ground water since ground water also draws from the creeks. You can also help by not eating or buying farmed salmon because farmed salmon is decimating the wild salmon population by 50% worldwide! This is because the farmed salmon spread diseases to the wild salmon.

We believed a big part of the problem is that many people are unaware that Coho salmon is endangered and don’t know how to help. So, let your family and friends know how to help save the Coho salmon in California. Let’s all do our part to keep these precious fish from going extinct.

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