Chum Salmon: Why Should You Care?

The most common question when talking to folks about our efforts to save Hood Canal Summer Chum is “…. why? What good are they except for dog food – why don’t we focus all of our efforts on Chinook?” And it’s a fair question; it opens up the conversation about Chum. Chum salmon have never been popular. Their services and functions in our local ecosystem often go unrecognized – so here is their due recognition.

Like all salmon, Chum bring vital nutrients and “fertilizer” back to our watersheds from the salt. These nutrients enhance both biodiversity and the health of our local ecosystems, benefiting native plants, soil, insects, and other creatures.

Like all salmon, chum bring essential nutrients back from the salt.

And the Hood Canal watershed is very special; it’s home to it’s very own species of chum. Summer Chum are a key species that returns to Hood Canal rivers at the end of August. They are the first run of “fertilizer” for the Hood Canal during this time of year, keeping the biodiversity of this watershed high. Many species of fish depend on nutrients brought in by Chum during summer, including Chinook, sea-run cutthroat, steelhead, and young coho. Summer Chum bring marine derived nutrients back to the trees, shrubs, insects, birds, and other creatures as well.

August is truly a remarkable time to return to their native rivers; the water levels are low, warm, and nutrient deprived, but chum continue to press on and deliver.

By saving Summer Chum, you are really working to protect so much more. You are helping all other species of salmon, trout, and native plants. They are a keystone species just as much as Chinook – and in fact, chum support the culturally and economically revered Chinook. Summer Chum are important, providing vital fertilizer, nutrients, and supporting our unique ecosystem when no other fish can.

To learn about our Summer Chum restoration efforts in the Hood Canal and how you can get involved, visit our project page here.