Mack's Blog

May 4 - 8, 2020


Hey there! I'm Mackerelmore (Mack for short), and your community voted for me to be the spokesfish for Team #Bothell during this year's Survive the Sound race! What's a Survive the Sound race, you ask? It's an interactive online game that uses real steelhead tracking data. It lets you follow my friends and me as we try to migrate through the Puget Sound and make it all the way to the Pacific Ocean without becoming someone's lunch or meeting our demise some other way!

Statistically, only 20% of us juvenile salmon survive this migration. It's me and 47 other fish in this race...who's your pick to win? I hope I have what it takes! Follow me on my blog each day May 4 - 8 to find out how my friends and I are doing. You can also find lots of information about our journey at www.survivethesound.org.

I'm Mackerelmore!

Mackerelmore
Community's Pick is Mackerelmore!

Get involved!


This program is made possible by Survive the Sound and Long Live the Kings. Learn more about what they do, then get involved! 
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Proceeds from Survive the Sound help Long Live the Kings restore wild salmon and steelhead, and support free classroom participation.
Are you ready to find out whether I'll "Survive the Sound?" Start at the top and scroll down to read all about my journey from Day 1!

May 4


Day 1



And…we're off! On Day 1 of the Survive the Sound race, I've already been swimming like crazy and am only 116 miles away from the finish line! Sure, 21 of my friends may be closer than me, but I'm happy to be in the middle of the bunch for now. I started my trek near the south fork of the Skokomish River in Mason County (near Shelton) and I've already made it past Union, Potlatch, and Hoodsport.

Fortunately, the researchers that are tracking us show that all 47 of my friends are also still alive! If you want to see how my friends are doing, check out www.survivethesound.org
STS - Day 1 All
STS - Day 1 Mack
Here's some vocabulary and trivia for you.


Vocabulary


Estuary: Simply put, it's an area where fresh water and salt water meet and mix. The mixing of fresh water and salt water provide high levels of nutrients, making estuaries among the most productive natural habitats in the world. Healthy estuaries are critical to supporting healthy fish populations. 

Salmonid
: Any fish that belongs to the Salmonidae family (like me!), including the salmons, trouts, chars, and whitefishes.

Quiz


What benefits can estuaries provide to salmonids?
a) Shelter from predators
b) Rearing habitat
c) Food
d) Transition to saltwater
e) All of the above

If you answered "e," you're right! Did you know Puget Sound is the largest estuary, by water volume, in the contiguous United States?! Puget Sound encompasses many other estuaries, including large ones and small ones, found in sheltered bays, inlets, and lagoons.
Wish me luck, and check my blog again tomorrow for another update on my progress!

May 5


Day 2



Good news – I’m still alive! I moved a little closer to the finish line and am now in 12th place instead of 22nd! I still have 95 miles to go, but it’s not the distance I’m worried about right now. What I’m worried about is the Hood Canal Bridge. I’ve heard it’s usually the end of the road for nearly half of my kind. Us steelhead like to swim within about three feet of the water’s surface, but most of the Hood Canal Bridge’s concrete extends about 15 feet into the water. If I get tired of hitting a wall and eventually try to swim to one of the sides to get past it, I’m an easy target for seals, birds, and other predators who are just waiting for an easy snack.
STS - Day 2 Mack
If I have the smarts and the energy to find my way around the bridge without getting tired and being eaten by someone higher on the food chain, then I think it will be a piece of cake getting to the finish line. But if my plan doesn’t work, this could be the end of me. Do you think I’ll be able to make it? I better take a breather near Bangor today and psych myself up for tomorrow!
Some of my friends have already met their fate. As of Day 2, five of them have died. But 43 of us are still in the race! The top three fish near the finish line are Hot Shot, Swedish, and Forest. Go, friends, go! You can see how my friends and I are doing at www.survivethesound.org. And if you want to learn more about what it’s like trying to get around the Hood Canal Bridge from my point of view, check out this article from Q13 news.
Here's some more vocabulary and trivia for you.


Vocabulary


Heterotroph: An organism that cannot manufacture its own food and instead obtains its food and energy by taking in organic substances, usually plant or animal matter.

Zooplankton:
A type of heterotrophic plankton that range from microscopic organisms to large species, such as jellyfish. Zooplankton drift in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. Zooplankton eat a variety of bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, and even other zooplankton species. Since such organisms live at the surface of bodies of water, zooplankton are also typically found in the upper waters.

Quiz


Which of these are not a type of zooplankton?
a) Krill
b) Jellyfish
c) Leeches
d) Squid
e) None of the above
STS - Day 2 All
You’re correct if you answered “e.” All of these organisms are zooplankton. Many factors can impact the health of zooplankton. This makes it difficult to tell people exactly what they can do to help beyond the essentials – reduce energy consumption, dispose of waste properly, fix oil leaks on cars, etc. By gathering more data and comparing to other data sets, researchers hope to be able to prioritize actions to focus their efforts and come up with new solutions.

Check back with me tomorrow for another update on my progress.

May 6


Day 3



On Day 3 of Survive the Sound, I’m happy to say I’ve made it to the Hood Canal Bridge. I just haven’t made it past the Hood Canal Bridge, and I’m kind of running out of steam! Look at the dotted lines on the image below to see where I’ve gone and how frustrating and tiring it has been trying to get past that bridge! If I can just get past it, I’ll only have 84 miles to go before I reach the ocean (AKA sweet, sweet victory). But like I said yesterday, about half of us don’t make it past the bridge, so my odds aren’t the best.
STS Day 3 - Duwamish
STS Day 3 - Mack
In other dicey news, the race ended for 14 more of my friends today, bringing the death toll up to 19. It looks like my friends who started their journey in the Duwamish River are having an especially rough time. By the end of this journey, we’ll be lucky if 20% of us are still alive! But on a positive note, two of my friends – Hot Shot and Swedish – crossed the finish line and are happily swimming in the Pacific Ocean now! And my friends Forest and Willy aren't far behind them.

Watch everyone's journey at www.survivethesound.org. I’m now in 14th place, a few spots back from where I was yesterday. But please keep cheering for me! I need all the help I can get!
Here’s today’s vocabulary and quiz.

Vocabulary


Forage fish: Small schooling species that serve as prey for larger commercially and recreationally important fish, as well as for marine mammals and sea birds. Anchovies, herring, chub mackerel, and sardines are some common forage fish.

Quiz


Which of these is not a “forage fish” of the Pacific Northwest?
a) Pacific Herring
b) Surf smelt
c) Pacific Cod
d) Sand lance
e) Anchovies
You’re right if you answered “c.” Pacific cod are not forage fish. Herring, sand lance, anchovies, and surf smelt are all forage fish, which supply salmon with the energy they need to avoid predators. In many cases, shoreline property owners can do their part to restore forage fish spawning habitat by removing seawalls and bulkheads and replacing them with engineered, natural shorelines.

Here's where everyone stands (or swims)

STS Day 3 - All
Speaking of predators, I hope I can avoid the seals and birds I see eyeballing me while I hang out near the Hood Canal Bridge! Wish me luck, and check back tomorrow to see how I’m doing (or was doing)!

May 7


Day 4



Today’s update for the Survive the Sound steelhead migration race is more of a eulogy, as today I succumbed to the deep blue beyond and became fish food. My friend Hot Shot, winner of this year’s race, was kind enough to write me a eulogy though. Here’s what he wrote:
STS  Day 4 - RIP Mack
"His name was Mackerelmore. We called him Mack. He was a young steelhead. He started his journey in the south fork of the Skokomish River. He swam to the Hood Canal Bridge. He hit a wall. He swam around dazed and confused but headed for the bridge again. He hit a wall again. And again. And again. And possibly a few hundred more times. And then he probably became seal food. He died before he could reach the Pacific Ocean. But he fought hard. He made us proud. We’ll miss him."
At this stage in the race, let’s take a minute to pay tribute to all my not-so-fortunate friends whose journeys ended long before the finish line. R.I.P. to these 32 silvery friends: April, BackJack, Bodhi, Boom, Bubbles, Cody, Eddy Gar, Empowerfish, Gill Kerlikowske, Goldie, Grape, Little Red, Lulu, Micro, Neptune, Ocean Magic, Puget Pounder, Rainbow, Salmon Ella, Sammy, Scifi, Sea Slough, Sergeant Snackbar, Seven-Fishy-Seven, skʷawǝľ, Speedy, Stormy, Sushi, The Swiss, Tracker, Venti, and Vulcarp. You guys swam a good swim.
That leaves 15 fish still fighting the good fight, and four of them have already made it to the ocean! So I’m going to spend the next day rooting for the remaining 11 fish, and it looks like Jaws, Utilifish, and Habitat are all close to the finish line! Watch their journey at www.survivethesound.org.
STS Day 4 Finishers
STS Day 4 All Stats

Vocabulary


Predator: An animal that naturally preys on others.

Quiz


Which of these does not eat juvenile salmon?
a) Harbor porpoises
b) Humans
c) Seals
d) Birds
The correct answer here is “b.” While humans do eat adult salmon, they do not fish for juvenile salmon, or the juvenile steelhead featured in Survive the Sound. But seals, harbor porpoises and some birds enjoy the young fish. Predators are often blamed for the decline of salmon and steelhead populations, and their impact is significant, but the collective health of the ecosystem can play a larger role. When talking about predator management, it’s important to consider factors that could be exacerbating predation, such as migration barriers, lack of habitat, disease, and pollution. A healthy ecosystem can provide more fish for everyone.

Tomorrow, from beyond the grave, I’ll post my last update for this year’s race and will tell you which of my friends survived the Sound! But for now, it’s time to call it a life and go watch some funny shark videos on YouTube.

My valiant effort and my devastating end

STS Day 4 - Macks Tracks

May 8


Day 5



It’s the final day of the Survive the Sound steelhead migration race, and history has repeated itself. Just like last year, only 7 of the 48 original fish survived their treacherous trek through Puget Sound and made it to the ocean. That’s an 85% mortality rate…yikes!. Yesterday we paid tribute to the fallen, including yours truly, so today I want to congratulate the survivors. Way to go Hot Shot, Swedish, Willy, Forest, Jaws, Utilifish, and Habitat! Be careful out there – I hear it’s a big ocean!
STS Day 5 - All Survivors
Scientists are looking at reasons why so many of my friends are dying, but we know one of the contributing factors is the polluted waters we have to navigate. Just like people, when fish are unhealthy, they slow down. This makes us an easy meal for predators. Less than 10% of the steelhead population that existed 100 years ago remains today. Low salmon populations can cause deeper issues within the surrounding ecosystem, as we’ve seen with the decline of our southern resident orca population.

There’s a long way to go in terms of restoring wild steelhead and salmon populations, but there are simple things you, as a human, can do to help. It starts with keeping pollution out of our local streams. Practice natural yard care. Pick up after your dog. Use a commercial car wash. Fix vehicle leaks. 
Why do those simple actions matter? Because rain picks up whatever it touches – whether it’s excess fertilizer, pesticides, dog poop, car wash runoff, or fluids from leaky vehicles – and carries it to the nearest storm drain. This polluted stormwater eventually makes its way, untreated, all the way to Puget Sound. Then poor little guys like me are expected to swim in it! So as a way to honor my sacrifice, I’d like to ask you to remember this: Only rain down the drain!

Vocabulary


Stormwater: Water from rainfall and snowmelt that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots and flows into surface water including drainage facilities, rivers, streams, lakes, and Puget Sound. Stormwater can also come from hard grassy surfaces like lawns, play fields, and from graveled roads.

Quiz


Approximately what percentage of juvenile steelhead that make it to the Hood Canal Bridge will not survive past it?
a) 5
b) 20
c) 30
d) 50
3) 80
STS Day 5 - FINishers2
STS Day 5 - All fish and stats
The right answer is "d." Isn't that crazy? Unfortunately, I was in the unlucky half that didn't make it past the bridge. Talk about bad luck!

Addressing environmental problems involving public infrastructure is no easy task. People all pay for it, benefit from it, and never realized it would be a problem for fish. It’s important to encourage research to identify issues early and find new solutions so we can enjoy our modern conveniences while protecting the environment. It can be expensive, but in the long run it’s much cheaper to invest in solutions sooner than later. You can’t fix extinction!

Join Team #Bothell again next May to follow a new set of young steelhead during Survive the Sound 2021. I hope my journey taught you some valuable lessons!
STS Final Day