October 26, 2022 | By:
Elwha Nearshore aerial photo from August 2022

Elwha Nearshore Autumn 2022 Update

Update from Anne Shaffer, PhD of the Coastal Watershed Institute on tracking Elwha nearshore ecosystem restoration post-dam removal. 

A warm busy morning in the Elwha nearshore on Friday. We had the WWU Salish Sea Institute Ecological Restoration class with us for this month’s sampling which made for a productive, fun, and very busy morning. We had so much going on we didn’t get fish face photos (!) so I’ve included the aerial photo from August in their place.

The Elwha west side channel was cooler than last month but the DO (Dissolved Oygen) is still troubling (57%). Juvenile coho continue to inhabit the Elwha side channel even though the water was as low as we’ve ever seen it. Salt Creek DO was much higher (91%) and full of the usual gunnels, arrow gobies, etc.

A couple of the nearshore team also took a couple hours to get IN the central Strait nearshore.  The juvenile herring and sand lance born just last spring are shoaling in spectacular numbers along the nearshore as they ready to move offshore for the winter. It’s a remarkably abundant landscape and the fall visibility is, for once this year, clearer under water than above due to wildfire haze. Troubling observation is that these images should also include adult coho, steelhead, cutthroat (and others)—but they are not here. The ominous low flows from the unrelenting high pressure system are likely at play.  In the nearshore we hold our breath, wait for rain, and hope they are on their way.

Thank you to CWI/WWU/PC interns Bligh Hueske, Meghan Fallon, and newest intern Noah Mohmand for their heavy lifting and good work that allowed us to do so much!

Click any photo to enlarge and begin slideshow. All photos © Coastal Watershed Institute.

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