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Contact: Dave Reynolds, 360-565-2985
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Fisheries biologists from Olympic National Park and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe are entering the final phase of a three-year investigation into the kokanee salmon population in Lake Crescent.
The project continues this week as park and tribal biologists collect tissue samples from 60 kokanee for genetic analysis. Using non-lethal capture and sampling methods, biologists will carefully remove a small portion of the caudal fin, and then release the fish back into the lake.
"Information gathered through this study will help guide us in successfully managing Lake Crescent's kokanee population, as well as the lake's other fish species, said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin.
The genetic analysis will determine if Lake Crescent kokanee are the progeny of hatchery fish released into the lake between 1914 and 1939, or a unique native population which adapted to the lake following the landslide event that separated Lake Crescent from Lake Sutherland and the Elwha watershed several thousand years ago.
Under a cooperative agreement between park and tribe, biologists have used hydroacoustic surveys to determine distribution, population size and spawning locations of kokanee in the lake. After spawning locations have been identified, redd counts are conducted to determine spawner abundance.
Kokanee, the resident or land-locked form of sockeye salmon, are the primary food source for Beardslee and Crescenti trout, both of which are endemic populations occurring only in Lake Crescent. Despite the importance of kokanee to the lake's food chain dynamics, little is known about this population's status, life history and genetic origin.
The primary objectives of Olympic National Park's fisheries management program are to manage aquatic resources as an important part of the park ecosystem, to preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats, and to provide recreational fishing opportunities for the enjoyment of park visitors.