Salmon Resources for Educators
For a few short weeks every year, nearly every creek and river in Grays Harbor County experiences an influx of spawning salmon. There are five different species of Pacific salmon: Pink, Chum, Coho, Chinook, and Sockeye. Each arrives at different times of year and has its preferred rivers and nesting sites. We see every species of salmon in our county, except the Sockeye.
Salmon are compelling for many reasons. Foremost, they are delicious and nutritious and have been fished as a source of food since time immemorial. They are deeply entwined in the history, culture, and livelihoods of many families in our region, especially Native American families who have co-existed with and depended upon these animals since the Ice Age. Salmon are also exciting to watch as creeks and waterways fill with the large adults who dig nests (called redds) in the sediment to lay their eggs. Many people also enjoy watching young salmonids darting through pools and riffles at other times of the year, the baby fish adding an intriguing layer of life to the water. Salmon also draw other animals to the rivers, increasing our chances of seeing foraging bald eagles, otters, bears and other wildlife.
Pacific Northwest salmon are fish who are born in freshwater, spend their adult lives in the ocean, and return to their natal rivers and streams to breed. They have a complex life cycle that includes providing valuable nutrients to other animals and plants, by transporting these nutrients in their bodies from the ocean to the rivers where they die. Salmon stitch together the habitats of our region and are vital to the health of both marine and freshwater ecosystems. All of these characteristics can be used to help teach Life Sciences concepts in the Next Generation Science Standards.
Following are links and resources to help you connect your students with the local relevance of this animal.
Middle and High School
Cultural Connections and Economics