Non-natal Nearshore Rearing of Salmon

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In 2003 staff at the Skagit River Systems Cooperative found higher then typical rearing of chinook salmon in small quiescent Embayments in the Whidbey Basin. This led to the pocket estuary hypothesis, which has driven restoration planning in the nearshore and development of an extensive body of work (see:Nearshore habitat planning for salmon recovery). Successive work in observing juvenile salmon use of estuaries (see: Evaluating Salmon Rearing Limitations in River Deltas) has suggested that during large out-migrations, limited space in deltas results in fish seeking habitats in the nearshore. Regulatory work to quantify nearshore habitat services as part of the Puget Sound Nearshore Habitat Conservation Calculator encouraged the reconsideration of the evidence that describes patterns of non-natal rearing of salmon along River Deltas, Beaches, Embayments, and Headlands. This led to PSEMP support for an evidence synthesis project as part of the Science Sprints to Support Regulation effort, which incorporated use of this wiki.



  • How does residence time affect our understanding of more common salmon density observations?
  • How does non-natal rearing function in locations where sheltered shallow water habitat is very abundant (South Puget Sound), compared to locations where these habitats are less common?
  • How does growth rate and ultimately marine survival describe the effectiveness of non-natal rearing?

2023 Science Sprint Evidence

File:Lambert & Chamberlin 2023 non-natal rearing.pdf synthesizes existing evidence about the use of non-natal waters including non-natal coastal streams and coastal embayments. The following items were identified as critical pieces of evidence in that analysis:

Salmon and Embayment/Beach Documents