Video: Do Seattle Seawall Improvements Make for Happy Salmon?

By Jodie Toft, Senior Marine Ecologist

Recently, we spotted some Xtratuf-wearing, slightly soggy folks relaxing in our lunchroom. Turns out, The Nature Conservancy's Seattle office served as a welcome rest stop for seawall snorkeling scientists from the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences

At a staff retreat last Fall, Friends of the Waterfront shared details on habitat improvements that the City of Seattle has integrated into the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. These include light-penetrating surfaces in cantilevered sidewalks, cobbled surfaces and shelves that promote growth of vegetation and marine invertebrates, and submerged benches that provide shallow water habitat.

The UW research team is doing post-construction monitoring of the habitat improvements and also of the Olympic Sculpture Park pocket beach. They hop in their snorkel and SCUBA gear a couple times a week to survey the area and count baby salmon. (CUTE MUCH?!  Read here for more on these charismatic mini-fauna.)

Last week, the UW researchers recorded juvenile chum feeding under the light penetrating surfaces at Pier 54. Note the cobbled surfaces and shelves on the seawall. 

Stay tuned for research findings later in the year!