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Endangered coho returning to North Bay to spawn in streams, with mixed results


Standing on a stone bridge overlooking Lagunitas Creek in west Marin County, giddy onlookers observed a male coho salmon swimming upstream toward a nesting area guarded by a female.

Naturalist Catie Clune explained that male coho have a mere 20 seconds to fertilize hundreds of eggs laid by females. It’s a delicate, acutely time-sensitive task crucial for the survival of one of Northern California’s iconic species — and one most people have never witnessed.

Yes, you read that right, 20 seconds.

“This is amazing,” said Larry Martin, a retired food and wine professional from Forestville. “I’ve pretty much lived here my whole life and never seen a salmon spawning in a creek.”

This year’s salmon spawning season so far appears to be a mixed bag, with some locations, such as Lagunitas Creek, showing robust activity, and others, including the Russian River in Sonoma County, falling short of expectations.

Officials with the Sonoma County Water Agency observed about 1,200 to 1,500 chinook salmon in the Russian River this winter, roughly half the historical average of 3,200, according to Gregg Horton, a principal environmental specialist for the organization.



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Marin’s coho salmon run off to ‘very busy’ start for season

Endangered coho salmon are riding waves of rain into Marin in numbers not seen in a decade.
Earlier this month, Marin Municipal Water District ecologists counted 140 coho and 37 new redds — egg nests — in Lagunitas Creek over the course of seven days, the highest one-week count since 2006.
And last week, the district counted 59 fish and 21 redds in Devil’s Gulch Creek and 55 coho and 20 nests in the upper half of San Geronimo Creek.
“It’s very busy, there are a lot of coho out there,” said Greg Andrew, fishery program manager for the water district. “It’s a very active time.”