The natural world in 2022 brings the return of endangered salmon species across the California Bay Area. The past years have seen little appearance of two notable salmon breeds, the Coho Salmon and the Chinook Salmon. However, January has seen the flourishing of old spawning grounds alight with salmon preparing nests and making way for the next generation.
A migratory species, the two types of salmon have made their way out of the Pacific Ocean and across the bay, diverging from rivers into West Marin County and San Geronimo Valley creeks. Much joy has returned to the surrounding residents who have eagerly awaited their return. Unfortunately, California’s prolonged drought has previously impacted the ability of the Coho Salmon to make their journey. Thanks to the early rain of October and heavy rainfalls of December, legions of Coho Salmon have made their way to Lagunitas Creeks: one of the endangered species' last major spawning grounds.
Residents of Lagunitas Creeks are delighted to watch the salmon fulfill their journey. Families walk along the river beds with their children as they search for the distinct red bodies of the salmon making nests to lay their eggs. Meanwhile, residents of San Geronimo Valley have been able to enjoy the return of the Coho Salmon to the Montezuma and Larsen Creeks for the first time in decades. These salmon navigate into smaller creeks, which are usually blocked by road culverts.
Although the salmon were not alone in their endeavor, many environmentalists worked to ensure the salmon a safe and effective journey; a prominent figure among them was Todd Steiner. A biologist and the founder of the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN), Steiner has worked with the county for years to revamp the creek, helping widen the water bed to ensure the Salmon a better chance of survival during their travels.
While the eggs of the Coho Salmon are still threatened by habitat loss and other factors caused by climate change, environmentalists still view the return of the Salmon as a testimony to the persistence of the natural world.
Ryan Ford '23,