|Female Chinook Salmon|
|Male Chinook Salmon|
|Adult male Chinook Salmon, about one meter in length.|
|Stages of Chinook Salmon egg development|
After spending several months to two years in freshwater, chinook salmon make their way to the sea where they will spend the next few years of life as marine adults, preying largely on other fish, as well as squid and shrimp. While at sea, salmon are a favorite food item for seals and sea lions, orcas, sharks, and, of course, humans (which is okay as long as harvesting is done sustainably!) After a few years at sea, they begin their long and final journey upriver to return to their birthplace. And the cycle continues.
|Look closely: Chinook salmon in the Stanislaus River (A red male can be seen in the lower left of the photo)|
|The Stanislaus River, looking west|
"Land use activities associated with logging, road construction, urban development, mining, agriculture, and recreation have significantly altered fish habitat quantity and quality. Associated impacts of these activities include: alteration of streambanks and channel morphology; alteration of ambient stream water temperatures; degradation of water quality; reduction in available food supply; elimination of spawning and rearing habitat; fragmentation of available habitats; elimination of downstream recruitment of spawning gravels and large woody debris; removal of riparian vegetation resulting in increased stream bank erosion; and increased sedimentation input into spawning and rearing areas resulting in the loss of channel complexity, pool habitat, suitable gravel substrate, and large woody debris. Studies indicate that in most western states, about 80 to 90 percent of the historic riparian habitat has been eliminated."
In recent years, efforts have been made to bring back the salmon and restore habitat in order to ensuring their conservation and success as a species. Efforts include captive rearing in hatcheries and habitat protection and rehabilitation. Sections of key habitat have been protected in order to guard against habitat fragmentation. Dams that obstruct salmon migration have been modified or in some cases removed. Degraded habitat has been restored and water quality and flow improved. In many cases, efforts have been made to curb streamside erosion and restore streambed gravel deposits suitable for nesting and critical for the reproductive success of the salmon.
|The Stanislaus River, looking east|