On July 26th, 2014, Gary and I took a short visit to the upper Chena River. We were checking on a study site I used during my Ph.D. research to make sure it’s still ideal for the kinds of observations we’re doing on juvenile Chinook salmon.
We only saw a few adult salmon, including this one that was well on its way to fertilizing the ecosystem for next year.
We found some juvenile Chinook salmon in the big logjam as expected. However, they were few and far between compared to past years. The river had been flowing extremely high for most of the year, and the relative lack of fish anecdotally agreed with one of the hypotheses proposed in my Ph.D. dissertation — that the juvenile salmon don’t do very well during high-flow years.
One of the ultimate aims of our project is to help figure out what it is about these mainstem Chena habitats that allows them to support so many fish in low-flow years, and why the fish do so poorly by comparison in high-flow years.