Story & Photos by Izzy Wallace

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the City of SeaTac released 250 salmon raised by staff into Des Moines Creek.

The City of SeaTac had picked up the Coho salmon eggs from the Soos Creek Hatchery last January, and raised them in the SeaTac Community Center. The salmon, also called fry at this stage, were now ready to venture out.

The reason for the release is due to the decrease in salmon population these last few years. Salmon are a vital part of the northwest ecosystem, and so hatcheries and local cities are now working together, to help maintain the salmon levels.

This is the third year the City of SeaTac has released salmon; however, this was the first year it was a public event.

“The first couple of years were actually during COVID, so we didn’t have the amazing opportunity for everyone to gather like this and release the salmon,” said Jonica Strongman, water quality technician for the city of SeaTac.

But the hope stays the same as previous years – for the salmon to return to the creek someday, and lay eggs.

Strongman gave a small presentation, detailing the journey the salmon will take through their lifetime.

“They will live free for about a year, and then they’ll go to the ocean and live for a few more years before they come back as spawners,” Strongman said. “Spawning is when they lay their eggs, and make the next generation of salmon. So, it’ll be a few years before these little guys come back to this creek, to hopefully lay more eggs.”

She also touched on ways anyone can help keep their local bodies of water clean and livable for salmon. Things such as: checking your car for any oils or drips, washing your car at a commercial car wash instead of in the driveway or street, picking up after your pets, reducing use of herbicide and pesticide, picking up litter, and reporting spills to Public Works can all help the local ecosystem.

After this, the release began. Anyone who wished to assist in the release, were welcomed to get in line and help out.

Using cups, the salmon were scooped out of their initial bucket and counted. Strongman had the person in line help count and catch the fish. Next, the tiny fry were handed off and taken up to the Des Moines creek, where they were freed.

Councilmember Peter Kwon joined the event, taking his own turn at collecting and counting fish in a cup before handing them off to be released into the stream.

Many children in line named the salmon they helped release, and said their farewells to “Fishy,” “George,” and “Nemo.”

If you’d like to learn more on how to help salmon in your daily life, visit the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office’s website.

To report a local spill, call the city of SeaTac at 206-973-4770 during business hours, or 206-296-8100 after hours.

Below are photos from the event, with additional ones courtesy the City of SeaTac (click image to launch photo gallery):