BTB Photographer Michael Brunk  recently had the opportunity to shadow a CSI team working in Normandy Park. Crime scene investigation? Nope, Community salmon investigation!
Seven volunteer teams — Dubbed CSI: Highline — conduct daily audits of the Miller and Walker Creeks from early October to mid-December. Trained by Dennis Clark, the Miller/Walker Creek Basic Steward, the teams walk the creeks with the mission to identify and count live adult fish and conduct necropsies on salmon carcasses to determine if the fish were able to spawn before they died.
The data collected by the volunteers will shed light on trends in the health of the salmon population and provide a baseline to measure the effectiveness of improvements to their habitat in future years.
At this point we’re just over halfway through the spawning season for Coho and Chum salmon. To date 20 Coho salmon have been identified and 66 Chum salmon, with another 24 fish that couldn’t be positively identified. The season started around October 11 with the Coho salmon run and is now continuing with the Chum salmon run which is expected to run through mid-December.
This is the first year the CSI program is gathering methodical data for the Miller and Walker Creeks. Anecdotal information from members of the Normandy Park Community Club from past years suggest that the Coho calmon run is much weaker. Low Coho returns in the Puget Sound area overall may be contributing to this, along with a weather pattern of alternating days of rainfall and dry weather that make it difficult for Coho to migrate upstream.
For more information on salmon monitoring visit the CSI: Highline website .