We would like to extend a big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in the Survive the Sound challenge. If you picked the Aquarium’s fish, Pierre 59, we have some great news—you won! Pierre 59 was a strong swimmer and crossed the finish line ranked in first place.
We are also excited to report that the Seattle Aquarium team had a strong showing: We finished second overall in the challenge, with 79 of our 103 total entries successfully migrating out of the Salish Sea. We would like to congratulate the Anthony’s Restaurant team that had an impressive showing with more than 200 entries and a first-place finish!
Pierre 59 was able to successfully migrate out of the Salish Sea, but not every fish made it: just seven out of the 48 total fish were able to "Survive the Sound." Migrating salmon face many obstacles as they travel through our local waters, and this challenge showed us that a small fraction of the fish who undertake the journey make it out to the open ocean.
What we learned about steelhead
If you followed along throughout the challenge, we learned many interesting facts about our endangered steelhead population. Steelhead spend anywhere from one to two years in rivers, where they eat insects to grow strong for their journey out to the ocean.
Once they leave the freshwater, their diets consist of zooplankton, small invertebrates and other fish. They move offshore after they hit salt water and will travel great distances—the longest of any salmon—across the ocean. Steelhead feed near the water’s surface, so are at high risk of consuming floating marine plastics. Unfortunately, many young steelhead die on their way to the ocean, but they're a crucial part of the food chain and are often food for predators like harbor seals and seabirds.
Visit the Aquarium to learn more about salmon and their amazing journey. We will also be out in the community in the fall for our Cedar River Salmon Journey, where Aquarium staff and volunteers will share their knowledge about this incredible species.
How you can help salmon
For steelhead and all salmon to thrive, it is critical that we protect the rivers and streams where juvenile salmon begin their life cycles. Vegetation cover for young salmon to hide is critical, and it's important that we limit the number of obstacles that might hinder migration. Reducing plastics and eliminating stormwater runoff and other pollutants is also vital to long-term salmon survival.
Each of us can do our part to help! We hope you will consider one (or all) of the following actions:
- Write a letter to our elected representatives sharing why salmon recovery is important to you. The more our legislators hear from us that salmon conservation is a priority, the more likely they are to act. You can find a list of our state officials here.
- If you'd like to get outside and get your hands dirty for a good cause, consider taking part in a habitat restoration project. You can visit your local Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group (RFEG) to learn about various events in your community.
- Stormwater can carry pollutants from numerous sources right into our rivers and ocean. Take a walk around where you live and see where the water is running. Does it run directly into a stream or the sewer? Water filtered through the ground is naturally cleaned before it enters our waterways. Consider planting native vegetation or rerouting your gutters so they can be naturally cleaned by the soil.
The health of the ocean and the creatures that call it home is in our hands. We hope you'll join us in promoting salmon recovery and conserving our marine environment!