Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1767
Title: Abundance, length, and stock origin of marked and unmarked juvenile Chinook salmon in the surface waters of greater Puget Sound
Author: Casey A. Rice, Correigh M. Greene, Paul Moran, David J. Teel, David R. Kuligowski, R. Reisenbichler, E. M. Beamer, J. R. Karr, Kurt L. Fresh
Publication Year: 2011
Journal: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume: 140
Issue: 1
Pages: 170-189

This study focuses on the use by juvenile Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha of the rarely studied neritic environment (surface waters overlaying the sublittoral zone) in greater Puget Sound.  Juvenile Chinook salmon inhabit the sound from their late estuarine residence and early marine transition to their first year at sea.  We measured the density, origin, and size of marked (known hatchery) and unmarked (majority naturally spawned) juveniles by means of monthly surface trawls at six river mouth estuaries in Puget Sound and the areas in between.  Juvenile Chinook salmon were present in all months sampled (April–November).  Unmarked fish in the northern portion of the study area showed broader seasonal distributions of density than did either marked fish in all areas or unmarked fish in the central and southern portions of the sound.  Despite these temporal differences, the densities of marked fish appeared to drive most of the total density estimates across space and time.  Genetic analysis and coded wire tag data provided us with documented individuals from at least 16 source populations and indicated that movement patterns and apparent residence time were, in part, a function of natal location and time passed since the release of these fish from hatcheries.  Unmarked fish tended to be smaller than marked fish and had broader length frequency distributions.  The lengths of unmarked fish were negatively related to the density of both marked and unmarked Chinook salmon, but those of marked fish were not.  These results indicate more extensive use of estuarine environments by wild than by hatchery juvenile Chinook salmon as well as differential use (e.g., rearing and migration) of various geographic regions of greater Puget Sound by juvenile Chinook salmon in general.  In addition, the results for hatchery–generated timing, density, and length differences have implications for the biological interactions between hatchery and wild fish throughout Puget Sound. 

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