Crystalyn and Amber went out to 5 different creeks in the county on Monday, November 14th, to perform environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling for Chum salmon.
This is a project overseen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) arising out of the Columbia SWCD’s work doing eDNA testing for Pacific lamprey in the summer of 2021. The ODFW Chum Reintroduction Coordinator has recruited several agencies throughout the Lower Willamette watershed to do testing in areas where Chum was historically present, but where recent surveys have yielded no observations. This is a way of establishing a baseline for future efforts and determining if Chum are truly extirpated from these streams.
The goal of the program is to monitor for several years in a row, taking samples in November and December when Chum migrate and spawn, and again in March and April when eggs hatch and juveniles migrate to estuaries.
Chum are not as energetic as other salmon species. They don’t jump over barriers as Coho or Steelhead do. When they spawn, they do so in the lower reaches of streams where the gradient is fairly low. Upon hatching, juveniles head straight to estuaries to rear. Sexually mature Chum have distinctive red and black “tiger” stripes on their sides.
If you observe Chum please take a picture and send it to us with the location of the sighting.
We’d love to hear about it!