Monday June 5, 2023

The Orcasonian

Heather Spore got down on her hands and knees on the soft sand, peering through a gaping hole in a more than 80-year-old rock wall at low tide.

The Swinomish biologist and environmental policy leader has been out here several mornings each week since April 13, when she and federal officials first found dozens of dead baby chum salmon trapped in a cove on the north end of the jetty.

After hatching in the Skagit River or its tributaries, juvenile salmon typically swim toward the mouth and would turn north toward Padilla Bay, a massive nursery for young fish to find refuge from predators and fatten up before heading to the ocean.

But the jetty has extended their migration route and recently proved to be a fatal obstacle. As baby fish swim alongside the dilapidated jetty, they are sometimes sucked through its holes at higher speeds than they can sustain, leaving many injured or dead. 

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