West Whidbey Nearshore Fish-Use Assessment


The western shore of Whidbey Island forms half a bottleneck through which out migrating smolts from the rivers of Puget Sound and Hood Canal pass to reach the Pacific Ocean. We would expect that millions of non-natal, out migrating salmon smolt use the nearshore and estuarine habitats of western Whidbey Island as they migrate from natal watersheds to the Pacific.

The Island County Salmon Recovery Strategy cites a loss of estuary and nearshore habitats as a factor limiting the production of salmonids, and the use and importance of nearshore, estuarine, salt marsh, and lagoon habitats by salmonids is identified as a high priority data gap. Data generated by this project will assist in prioritization of habitat protection and restoration projects on the western shore of Whidbey Island. The results of this project could be used to more effectively target resources and efforts to create a thriving salmon resource in Island County’s nearshore and estuaries.

In order to assess nearshore and estuarine habitat use on the western shore of Whidbey Island, Washington Trout conduct bi-weekly boat based seine hauls at five sites from January-December of 2006. Sample sites were selected in areas with a history of human disturbance that are particularly amenable to restoration and where such restoration efforts would likely have an especially positive impact on salmonid productivity. All fish brought to hand were enumerated, identified to species, and if possible a determination of origin will be made (hatchery vs. wild). The first 20 individuals of each species captured at a site were measured for fork length and weight and genetic samples will be obtained from at least 50 individuals of each ESA listed species at each site for determination of stock origin. 

Start Date
Whidbey Island, Admiralty Inlet, Washington State
Project Type
Completion Date
Nearshore Monitoring

Goals & Objectives

  • Document the timing and extent of juvenile salmonid use of nearshore habitats along the west coast of Whidbey Island.
  • Determine the basin of origin for coded wire tagged juvenile chinook captured along the west coast of Whidbey Island.
  • Continue to collect empirical data regarding salmonid use at potential project sites listed in the Island County Salmon Recovery Strategy.
  • Determination of stock origin of listed species using habitat at potential restoration sites along the nearshore of western Whidbey Island. 
Primary Habitats Impacted By Project:
Managing Agency/ Organization:
Wild Fish Conservancy
Project Contact:
Budget or Project Cost:
Micah Wait
Funding Sources:
Washington State Grants, Salmon Federal Projects