Salmon Swim in Some Bay Area Tributaries For First Time in Almost 20 Years

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Chinook Salmon swim up a fish ladder at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Feather River Hatchery just below the Lake Oroville dam during the California drought emergency on May 27, 2021 in Oroville, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Endangered and rare forms of salmon are being spotted in surprising places around the Bay Area — some of which they haven’t visited in almost two decades. Chinook salmon were even seen in Oakland’s Lake Merritt last month; now coho salmon are swimming in the tiny tributaries of the San Geronimo Valley. The reason for this year’s sightings can be traced back to the heavy rains over the last several months, which timed well for these breeds’ spawning periods. But in the bigger picture, land development, climate change, overfishing and drought have all played a role in why we haven’t seen these fish in so long — and are part of the conversation on how we can work to keep them around in the future. We’ll answer your questions about the salmon currently swimming in the Bay Area.


Ayano Hayes, watershed biologist, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN)

David Wofford, co-chair, Rotary Nature Center Friends