Puget Sound could differentially represent either a simple migration corridor or an important rearing environment during the potentially critical early marine residence period for different species of Pacific salmon. Recent declines in various stocks of Puget Sound salmon could reflect degraded rearing conditions or changes in temporal-spatial utilization patterns by juvenile salmon in Puget Sound, and these patterns could vary between habitats and regions of Puget Sound in response to different environmental conditions or hatchery practices. In April-September 2001 and 2002, we evaluated spatial and temporal differences in distribution and size structure among juvenile chum, pink, coho, and chinook salmon at delta and nearshore habitats in a northern and southern region of Puget Sound, Washington. Water was consistently warmer (8-18.8??C) and less saline (0.0-27.7) in the northern (N) than in the southern region (S: 9.5-14.6??C, 13.0-30.4). Salinities were lower and water temperatures more variable in delta sites than exposed nearshore marine sites. Peak densities of juvenile salmon coincided at delta and nearshore sites within sampling regions but differed between regions. Nearshore densities were highest during April-June with pink and chum salmon generally preceding chinook and coho salmon, and peak catch rates of most species occurred in May. A second, late pulse of chinook salmon also occurred during July at northern sites. Juvenile chinook salmon were predominantly of hatchery origin in the southern region (98%), and of mixed origin in the northern region (44% marked hatchery fish) during 2002. The lengths of chinook and chum salmon in nearshore regions increased steadily through time, whereas pink and coho salmon varied inconsistently. Mean sizes of juvenile salmon were slightly but consistently smaller at delta than nearshore sites and at northern versus southern sites. Hatchery chinook salmon were slightly larger than their unmarked counterparts. Extended nearshore residence times (their seasonal duration in the catches) and significant increases in size suggested that nearshore environments may be particularly important rearing areas for juvenile chinook salmon in the northern region, and chum salmon in the southern region. Regional differences in the magnitude and timing of hatchery inputs, salinity, and water temperature likely affect the timing, nearshore use, size, and growth potential for juvenile salmon entering different regions of Puget Sound and could differentially influence subsequent marine survival. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Early marine life history of juvenile Pacific salmon in two regions of Puget Sound