Pink salmon, Puget Sound’s smallest, most short-lived and most abundant of five native salmon species, are returning in record numbers to the Nisqually River.
There are so many of these 3- to 7-pound fish stacking up in the river, it conjures up the old saying: “They’re so thick, you could walk across the river on their backs.”
They aren’t quite that thick, but they are pulsing upstream to spawn in numbers that boggle the mind. More than 700,000 pinks are expected to enter the river this year out of an estimated Puget Sound run size of 6.2 million fish.
Flash back 10 years and tribal biologists were hard-pressed to find pink salmon in the river at all.
What gives? The first phrase out of the mouths of fish biologists is: “good ocean survival.” But that’s a catch-all phrase that might not tell the whole story.