Coastal or sea-run cutthroat trout are freshwater fish that also move into the marine waters to feed and are an important recreational fishery in many parts of the Salish Sea. Many people don't think of the San Juan Islands when they think of cutthroat trout, but they were historically caught in the area. Long-standing residents recall a time when these rare fish were much more abundant. While recent work documented cutthroat trout in some streams in the San Juan archipelago, little is known about the current status of coastal cutthroat trout in this area.
Thanks to funding raised from private donors, the SeaDoc Society just awarded a grant to Long Live the Kings to analyze the abundance of coastal cutthroat trout in the San Juan Islands.
With collaborators at the Wild Fish Conservancy, Kwiáht, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Long Live the Kings also will analyze the genetics and spawn-timing characteristics of cutthroat trout from multiple streams in the San Juan Islands to determine if there are unique stocks within each of the multiple watersheds and whether coastal cutthroat trout in the San Juans are a unique stock complex. This work will provide the basis for determining and prioritizing appropriate recovery efforts and measuring results after recovery begins.
Video of juvenile and adult coastal cutthroat trout in streams in the San Juan Islands:
Photo: J. Glasgow, Wild Fish Conservancy