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They’re Back: Web Cam Catches Sockeye Salmon Returning to Tongass Spawning Grounds
Date:7/19/2013

(PRWEB) July 19, 2013

Through the end of August, you will get the chance to be entertained as sockeye salmon swim along Alaska’s Steep Creek as the adults spawn before swimming to their deaths.

The Forest Service has placed the salmon cam in the creek on the Tongass National Forest so viewers world-wide have the opportunity to view fish in their natural setting. The ability to watch salmon in the wild is a treat for many people, but the underwater camera gives you a more intimate, unique look.

“The overall escapement, or numbers of fish that reach the spawning grounds, for Steep Creek sockeye varies from year to year,” said Pete Schneider, a fisheries biologist on the Tongass. “An average run would be considered 1,000 fish. We have seen it as low as 350 and as high as 4,000. So many factors can contribute to run size. It’s difficult to predict. So keep watching.”

Early in the spring sockeye fry emerge from the gravels and move into Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River sloughs and ponds, where they feed for 1-3 years before migrating to the ocean. After spending several years at sea, the adult sockeye return to Steep Creek to spawn, their last act before they die.

But all is not lost. The dead sockeye are still good meals for a variety of forest critters, including their own fry and as their nitrogen-rich carcasses decompose they provide valuable nutrients into the ecosystem.

If you see the view clouded, it could be because a female salmon is building her redd (gravel nest) by agitating the bottom of the creek bed with her fins and tail. She then bends her body back and forth to make a depression where she deposits her eggs. A male then moves in and deposits his milt, or sperm, over the eggs after an often lengthy courtship. The female uses her tail fin to cover the redd then moves upstream to do it again. Female salmon will often build multiple redds in the same general vicinity and then gu
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