Wednesday October 26, 2022

Yakima Herald-Republic

As biologist Nick Vanbuskirk drew a knife along the yellowing belly of the carcass of a Chinook salmon, hundreds of ripe, translucent orange eggs spilled out into the ankle-high waters of the Newaukum River. 

After surviving a stint in the Pacific Ocean, this salmon was met with over 70 miles of warm, shallow river. Along the way, she evaded hungry predators and made it most of the way back to her spawning grounds. But she died before she finished the job. The fish was only partially spawned out.

“It’s related to low water,” Vanbuskirk said. “The fish is just being attacked by so much stuff as far as disease, so any additional stress lets all that just kind of take over.” 

After Western Washington saw the driest June to October on record, several storms were slated to soak the region beginning Friday. It’s a welcome sight for many, including fish stuck downstream. But it comes at the risk of scouring eggs already laid in vulnerable places throughout the Northwest.

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