Pals of the Pacific
We began monitoring habitat and fish use of the Nick's Lagoon watershed in 1999. Our findings of chinook, coho, cutthroat, and
chum salmon helped to acquire the lagoon and its surrounding watersheds along Joe's, Dancing Feet, Nick's, Muddy Marc's, and
|All five streams entering the lagoon support coho juveniles in their estuaries (the place where fresh waters mix with salt
in the tidal channels lacing through the lagoon marsh).
Nick's Creek has spawning populations of chum, coho, and
cutthroat. Monitoring in the summer of 2004 under our recent grant showed that it also has large numbers of coho salmon
juveniles rearing in its upper reaches.
|Dancing Feet Creek has spawning chum, and possible spawning by coho. A single juvenile coho was observed at the East and
West Forks of the stream in August 2004.
One of the most important features we documented in our monitoring is the high
value to salmon of the very COLD waters of Dancing Feet and Nick's Creek.
|We compared their temperatures with those of other streams being monitored by our Director, Ron Hirschi and Dr. Thomas
Doty. Their work for the Skokomish Tribal Natural Resources is to sample fish populations and temperatures in other small
estuaries of southern Hood Canal. In the summer of 2003 they observed thousands of dead fish in some estuaries due to high
temperatures and other conditions that deplete oxygen from Hood Canal.
|In the summer of 2004, they have observed juvenile salmon leaving small estuaries as late July and early August
temperatures soared in some places where streams enter Hood Canal. But, some streams with cold, spring waters remain cool and
their estuaries still hold valuable habitat for young salmon.
The COLDEST stream they monitor is not far from Nick's
Lagoon. Entering Holly Bay, a stream they call Wyatt's Creek was 10 degrees C in early August. Dancing Feet Creek was also
10 degrees C on 23 August, three days after completion of our restoration project.
|Tidal channels in Nick's Lagoon also remained a cool 14C in August because of the cold water flowing into this coho
habitat from Dancing Feet and Nick's Creek.
Much more needs to be done to understand how young salmon survive the early
stages of their life, but Hood Canal coho, chinook, and chum salmon all find habitat at Nick's Lagoon. Keeping each stream
healthy will go a long way to making sure the little salmon grow to return for all to enjoy.
It's important to remember: Nick's Lagoon and the cold waters of its watershed support salmon from other Hood Canal streams.
Our monitoring has helped to show that chinook do not spawn here, but the offspring of chinook from other sources do come to the
lagoon to rear from about March to July. This appears to be true for chum and possibly for some of the coho we observe in all
months of the year.
Our monitoring is carefully watched over by all who enjoy salmon born in Nick's Lagoon watershed.
Baby Coho Salmon in Our Net. When they return to Nick's Lagoon, they'll weigh ten pounds or more!