chinook salmon | KNKX

chinook salmon

A young southern resident killer whale chases a Chinook salmon in the Salish Sea near San Juan Island, Washington, in September 2017. Image obtained under NMFS permit #19091.
John Durban/Southwest Fisheries Science Center / NOAA Fisheries

Chinook salmon – the Northwest’s largest and most iconic fish species – are shrinking.

Researchers have documented that adult kings returning from the North Pacific are on average 10 percent shorter and as much as 30 percent lighter than 40 years ago.

A harbor seal named Oscar by locals keeps an eye on people fishing and crabbing hear the Des Moines Marina, Thursday, July 21, 2016.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

One of the biggest issues facing Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident killer whales is a lack of Chinook salmon, their preferred food. A Seattle chef and the PCC Community Markets chain have stopped selling local Chinook, in an effort to help provide more for the orcas.

But fisheries experts say people eating Chinook is not the problem.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo / file

Low numbers of Chinook salmon expected to return to the Columbia River this summer have led state and tribal officials to close that fishery until Aug. 1. They’ve also announced new restrictions on Puget Sound Chinook.  

In this Sept. 7, 2012, file photo, gillnetters repair a net near the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon. Washington state is collecting feedback from the public as it considers fishing restrictions amid dwindling salmon populations.
Don Ryan / The Associated Press (file)

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has launched two months of public meetings as regulators decide how much salmon can be harvested from state waters. The process includes the first official statewide forecasts detailing how many salmon are expected to return in 2019.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

If you want to keep Puget Sound's endangered orca whales from going extinct, you have to make sure they have enough to eat. That’s a key message from members of Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca recovery task force.

In this February 2015 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) a new baby orca swims alongside an adult whale. A new calf was spotted Friday. No calf born in the past three years has survived.
NOAA, Candice Emmons / AP file

A new calf was spotted Friday among the population of critically endangered Southern Resident orcas.

Ken Balcomb, of the Center for Whale Research, told The Seattle Times that the calf — just weeks old — was first seen today at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

Water moves through a spillway of the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River near Almota, Washington. It is one of the four dams on the lower Snake River, which advocates have argued should be removed to provide better habitat for Chinook salmon.
Nicholas K. Geranios / The Associated Press

The Army Corps of Engineers has trimmed a year off the timeline for its court-ordered environmental review of the 14 dams and reservoirs in the Columbia River system. The agency is now aiming to sign off on a decision for how to manage the system and its impacts on endangered salmon by the end of September 2020.

Orca whales swimming
The Associated Press

People who love Puget Sound orcas and want to save them from extinction will rally in Olympia tomorrow. And Gov. Jay Inslee plans to join them, immediately after announcing his budget priorities for the coming year.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The state Department of Natural Resources is asking the Legislature for nearly $90 million dollars to protect and improve aquatic lands. DNR chief Hilary Franz says the package will support the work of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Orca Recovery Task Force.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

There’s a push to restore tidelands and wetlands all over the country. It’s widely acknowledged that these more natural landscapes provide big benefits to water quality and wildlife.

But, what if following this trend would mean eliminating a manmade feature that’s become integral to a community -- and is a signature feature of the state capitol?  That’s the debate heating up in Olympia, where the fate of Capitol Lake hangs in the balance. A $4-million dollar process to study the options for its future has just begun.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Local tribes are calling on the memory of legendary civil rights activist Billy Frank Jr. to rev up the fight for salmon recovery. They met in Tulalip Monday for what they dubbed a “first-annual” Pacific Salmon Summit, named in his honor.

Researchers at Gene Coulon Park in Renton, Wash.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s been nearly 20 years since the federal government listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The fish inhabit one of the most urbanized watersheds in the region. Local governments have just updated a 10-year recovery plan. One of the new priorities they’re addressing is a possible link between fish mortality and artificial light.  

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The state agency charged with leading the restoration of Puget Sound says it cannot meet its inaugural goal of recovering the ecosystem by 2020.

That’s one of the takeaways from the Puget Sound Partnership’s 2017 “State of the Sound” report, which comes out Wednesday. The reports are issued every two years.

Mark Musick / King Conservation District

Communities around Puget Sound have invested about $150 million over the past two decades to clean up the water and improve habitat for endangered salmon. Yet we continue to lose ground when it comes to a crucial part of that environment. King County watershed managers recently hosted a guided boat tour to spread the word about the importance of restoration work in recovering the so-called ‘nearshore.’                                         

Would you be able to tell if the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you ordered for dinner was swapped out for a less expensive piece of farm-raised salmon?

For the observant, the color difference between the two would likely be the first giveaway. (Sockeye has a deeper red-orange hue.) Or maybe you'd notice the disparity in the thickness of fillet. (Sockeye is flatter and less steaky in appearance.)

Anna King

Fisheries experts say the return of chinook salmon to the Columbia River may not quite break records this fall as expected.

Last year’s run of nearly 1.3 million salmon was a record, but future years may not bring those kinds of numbers.

The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – New research has found that a hatchery using wild salmon to spawn the next generation can help rebuild endangered salmon runs without passing on genetic problems that threaten future generations.