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Salmon are returning and you can get a close-up at Piper's Creek

A raccoon takes advantage of the access to salmon at Piper's Creek in Seattle.
Catherine Anstett
A raccoon takes advantage of the access to salmon at Piper's Creek in Seattle.

Salmon spawning is at its peak this time of year and it’s possible to go to local creeks and culverts to watch the salmon, up close and personal. 

Now through early December is prime time to get a good look at chum salmon as they return for spawning around the Puget Sound. And, Piper’s Creek in Carkeek Park is one of the best places in town to see these big fish swimming in a natural environment. They can be so close you might catch a little splash. 

Bill Malatinsky is a naturalist with Seattle Public Utilities’ Restore Our Waters. He is planning the celebration for the annual salmon run this Friday which goes from 11 to 1 p.m. 

“It’s not behind glass. You are actually looking down three feet below you and you see fish – chum salmon swimming up Piper’s Creek. And it really is just that, in and of itself, seeing those fish is just a very awe inspiring moment.”

They are hatchery salmon and the females typically lay three thousand eggs but ultimately only two fish will return to spawn. The bright red behemoths face a number of challenges as they journey from the creek up to Alaska and back.

Predators like Orca whales, pollution from stormwater runoff and disease threaten the salmon along the way. There will be volunteer salmon stewards on hand Friday to explain the salmon lifecycle in a way that even the littlest environmentalists can understand. Bill Malatinsky says he’ll be there rain, shine or snow.

“When I first saw the fish, I didn’t know anything about them, but you know it planted a seed and that seed grew into something I’m really passionate about – teaching people about how even on land we influence the water no matter where we are.”

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