Survive the Sound

Team #Bothell

May 2 - 6, 2022

Welcome to hank's blog... representing team #Bothell!

Hey there! I'm Hank, and your community voted for me to be the spokesfish for Team #Bothell during this year's Survive the Sound race!

What's Survive the Sound, 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 just me and 47 other fish in this race...who's your pick to win? I sure hope I have what it takes! Follow me here on my blog May 2 - 6 to find out how my friends and I are doing. You can also find lots of information about our journey at

About me

They call me Hank and my journey started in the Nisqually River. I'm about 9.33 inches long and I weigh 4.46 oz, which is a little larger than average for a youngster like myself.

I was designed by Swinomish artist Jeanette Quintasket.

My home watershed

The Nisqually River starts at the southern slope of Mt. Rainier and flows into South Puget Sound. The Nisqually Indian Tribe has stewarded this area long before the colonization of North America and the Tribe continues to care for this land. Over 900 acres of Nisqually estuary habitat has been restored and remains protected as the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. However, Interstate 5 runs through the area posing a threat to natural habitat and creating a barrier to recovery and predators have taken advantage of some bottlenecks in the estuary. ​View the lower Nisqually through the estuary in the video below.

Thank you to LightHawk and their pilots for this beautiful aerial footage.

Here are some of my best friends that are racing with me. Please root for all of us!

Are you ready to find out whether I'll "Survive the Sound?" I'll blog about my journey each day of the race from May 2 - 6 and will include daily videos, vocabulary, quizzes, and more fun stuff!

Wish me luck, and check my blog again starting May 2 for daily updates on my progress!

Day 1

May 2

And....we're off! My 47 friends and I have started our race through the rivers to Puget Sound, and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean! Navigating through the waters of the Nisqually River was a bit stressful for a young steelhead like me, but I made it to Puget Sound alive! I’m keeping my fins crossed for my 9 friends who are still trying to make it through the Nisqually.

I’m 145 miles from the finish line, and I know I’ve got some big challenges ahead of me. I’m in 38th place right now, which may not sound very impressive, but I also started from the Nisqually River while many of my friends started from points in the Duwamish or Skokomish rivers that are closer to Pacific Ocean. I’m hoping to catch up with the top five leaders soon though. Hey – wait up Lunch Box, Willy, Jaws, Salmon Ella, and Empowerfish! I’m on my way!

Keep scrolling down to learn about estuaries, Pacific Salmonids, and the differences between a steelhead and a salmon. Then quiz yourself and come back again to check on me tomorrow.

Wish me safe travels, and I’ll “sea” you again soon!

I made it out of the Nisqually River!

All fish as of Day 1

Day 1 vocabulary

Anadromous: Fish born in freshwater who spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn.

Estuary: Simply put, an estuary is 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.

Day 1 videos

Today let's learn about the different types of Pacific salmonids, and let's learn the difference between salmon and steelhead.

Day 1 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! Estuaries provide shelter from predators, food, rearing habitat, and an area to transition to saltwater. 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.

About habitat restoration

Many estuaries have been extensively degraded or entirely lost due to human development. Habitat destruction has long been identified as one of the main causes of our threatened salmon and steelhead populations. In response, Washington has invested almost $1 billion in habitat restoration, completing thousands of restoration projects. Healthy estuaries are critical to supporting healthy fish populations. Habitat restoration not only helps the environment, but also provides local jobs, recreation opportunities, and improved health and safety for the surrounding community. Learn more about habitat restoration efforts at

Nisqually Estuary and Olympics

Photo credit: Eric Hall

Day 2

May 3

It’s Day 2 and I’m still alive! I moved up a spot in the ranks, putting me in 37th place. I didn’t cover too much distance overnight, but I’m trying to conserve my energy for navigating the wide open waters of Puget Sound in the coming days.

In sad news, we lost some good fish overnight. Farewell to Salmon Ella, Goldie, Forest, Eddy Gar, Venti, and Puget Pounder. We’ll miss you, but we can celebrate the fact that 42 of us are still alive and getting closer to the Pacific Ocean! Here’s the leaderboard as of Day 2:

  1. Jaws (68 miles to go)

  2. Empowerfish (86 miles to go)

  3. Cedar (90 miles to go)

  4. Finn Geneer (91 miles to go)

  5. Lunch Box (92 miles to go)

Jaws took a route that didn’t include trying to get past the Hood Canal Bridge, which is often the end of the road for about half the fish that encounter it. Good planning, Jaws! You can see the wild path Willy has taken trying to get past the bridge. We’ll learn more about that bridge and why it’s such an obstacle later this week.

Willy's path near the Hood Canal Bridge

Here I am, just catching my breath for a few minutes

All fish in the race

Interestingly, four out of the five leaders began their journey in the Skokomish River. Do you think their chances of survival are better than those of us who started from the Nisqually or Duwamish rivers? And if so, why?

More questions: Do you know what zooplankton is? And do you know all the different stages of my lifecycle? Scroll down to find out!

Keep cheering for us and check back again tomorrow for another update on my progress.

Day 2 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.

Day 2 video

Watch this 10-minute video to learn about our lifecycle, starting from the time we're just tiny thoughts in our parents' minds to when we finally go to The Great Blue Beyond. Our lifecycle includes these stages:

  • eggs

  • alevin

  • fry

  • smolts

  • sea-run adults

  • spawning adults

Day 2 quiz

Which of these are not a type of zooplankton?

a) Trysopods

b) Amphipods

c) Krill

d) Crab larvae

e) Copepods

You’re correct if you answered “a!” We tried to trick you on this one. Trysopods isn’t even a real word. But amphipods, krill, crab larvae, and copepods are all types of 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.

About zooplankton

Long Live the Kings and regional partners began a Puget Sound-wide zooplankton monitoring program in 2014 to record the composition and abundance of zooplankton in the water and to develop indicators for salmon survival. Due to their sensitivity to environmental change and critical place in the food web, they are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. The metrics developed from this data are used to evaluate impacts of a changing Puget Sound food web and provide guidance towards improved salmon harvest management and Puget Sound Stewardship. Learn more about zooplankton in Puget Sound.

Zooplankton for juvenile salmon

Photo credit: NOAA

Day 3

May 4

Good news! The Force must’ve been with me today, because I’m still alive and swimmin’! I've moved up in rank from 37th to 24th place. I still have 113 miles to go, and sure, many of my friends are farther along in their journeys than I am, but I’m determined to keep going. I’ve encountered hungry seals, boats, pollution, and water that sometimes feels a bit too warm for my comfort, yet here I am. And I’m going to use my Jedi mind tricks to push myself all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

All in all, there are 29 fish alive as of today. Unfortunately, that also means we added 13 of my friends to the death toll. Can we take a moment of silence for the overnight casualties, please? Arluq, Lunch Box, Habitat, Chowder, Dawg Paddle, Floundry10, Utilifish, Little Red, Lulu, Fishy McFishface, Neptune, Rainbow, and Trigger.

I don’t like to end with sad news, so here’s something very exciting. My friend Jaws is soooooooooo close to the finish line! With just 25 miles to go, I have a good feeling that tomorrow we’ll all be saying “Congratulations” to this year’s first fish to cross the finish line. Jaws is trailed by Empowerfish (58 miles to go) and Cedar (80 miles to go). And let’s not forget about all the remaining fish who are still in this fight! For the past three years, only 7 out of 48 fish survived all the way to the finish line. Let’s all keep our fins crossed that the odds are a little better this year.

We’re over halfway through with the race now. Check back tomorrow to see if Jaws and the other leaders were able to keep afloat to the finish line! And scroll down to learn about salmon habitat, anatomy, and the role forage fish play in our complex ecosystem.

I'm hanging out near Tacoma

Jaws is getting close to the finish line

Day 3 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.

Day 3 videos

Today let’s learn about salmon habitat and salmon anatomy.

day 3 quiz

Which of these is not considered 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 and grow into huge orca-snacks. 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. (But remember to obtain the proper permits before moving ahead with any new shoreline development activity.)

About forage fish

Forage fish, such as Pacific herring, sand lance, anchovies, and surf smelt are small, silvery fish that are a good food source for larger predators such as salmon, birds, and seals. Research indicates that some forage fish populations are declining in Puget Sound due to habitat loss related to shoreline development. Without abundant forage fish, salmon may struggle to find enough food and other predators may turn to eating more Salmon.

Pacific herring

Photo credit: Steve, Flickr

Day 4

May 5

Remember yesterday how I said, “Tomorrow we may be congratulating this year’s first fish to make it to the ocean”? Well, tomorrow is today and we have a winner! Congratulations to Jaws! It looks like these finned friends will likely be the next finishers:

  • Empowerfish

  • Community

  • Abby aCOHO

  • Seven-fishy-seven

  • Cedar

  • Scien-fish

Jaws leading the way to the Pacific Ocean

And guess what? I’m still alive! I’m just kind of hanging out in Puget Sound between Shoreline and Edmonds. I still have 97 miles left to go and I’ve slowed down a bit, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race, right? Well, maybe not “wins” the race in this case…I’m just hoping to survive even if it takes me longer to get there. As of today, 33 of my friends have died, leaving just 15 of us in the race. Yikes!

Here are a few interesting things I noticed. First, the Duwamish River doesn’t seem to be the most fish-friendly place. So many of my friends that began their journey there didn’t even make it out of the river! I think we need to figure out what’s going on. Why do you think our survival rates are so low?

Non-survivors from the Duwamish River

Hank hanging out in Puget Sound

Hood Canal Bridge obstacle

Another thing I learned was that the Hood Canal Bridge doesn’t seem to be the most fish-friendly place either! Researchers found that half of all juvenile steelhead that try to make it past the bridge will die in the process. It’s not that they’re not trying to get past it, but here’s part of the problem: The bridge pontoons create an obstruction, increasing fish densities and making my friends and me more vulnerable to predators near the bridge. Us young steelhead like to swim within about three feet of the water’s surface while we’re migrating, but most of the Hood Canal Bridge’s concrete extends about 15 feet into the water. If we get tired of hitting a wall and eventually try to swim to one of the sides to get past the bridge, we’re easy targets for seals, birds, and other predators who are just waiting for an easy snack. Scroll down a little further to the Day 4 Quiz section to read more about the solutions scientists are thinking about to solve The Big Bridge Problem (that’s what my friends and I call it).

Tomorrow’s the last day of the race, so check back here then and I’ll share the final outcome of the race!

Day 4 vocabulary

Predator: An animal that naturally preys on others.

Prey: An animal that is hunted and killed by another for food.

Day 4 video

Learn about juvenile steelhead predation and how the Hood Canal Bridge affects juvenile steelhead.

Day 4 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 certainly 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.

About migration barriers

The data used in Survive the Sound, collected by Megan Moore at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services, revealed that half of all juvenile steelhead that make it to the Hood Canal Bridge won’t make it past alive. An assessment, coordinated by Long Live the Kings, showed that the bridge is a migration barrier for steelhead, and other salmon – like Chinook and chum – are also impacted by the bridge. Partners are currently working to construct interim solutions to increase fish passage while working on a more fish-friendly bridge design. Read more about the Hood Canal Bridge project.

Seals and Rock Hood Canal

Photo credit: Hans Daubenberger, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe


How does the Hood Canal Bridge affect juvenile steelhead? (13:21)

Hood Canal Bridge project information sheet

Hood Canal Bridge Assessment

Day 5

May 6

It’s the last day of the race, and just like that, history repeats itself with just 7 out of 48 original fish crossing the finish line! Congrats to the survivors: Jaws, Empowerfish, Community, Cedar, Scien-fish, Seven-fishy-seven, and Abby aCOHO. Way to beat the odds!

So…you probably noticed you didn’t see my name in that list. In a shocking turn of events, overnight I died in the Puget Sound, in 20th place and 91 miles from the Pacific Ocean finish line.

Yesterday I was feeling so hopeful, so energetic, and then – BAM. I died. I can't even tell you my cause of death yet - it all happened so fast! Do you have any theories? Did I become someone's lunch? Did I get hit by a boat (since we tend to stay closer to the surface when we're migrating in freshwater)? Did the water pollution get to me? Some young Chinook in Puget Sound have toxics called PCBs in them at levels which are known to impact their health. These toxic chemicals can also impact young steelhead. Toxic pollution and poor habitat can make fish more vulnerable to being eaten by a predator or to contracting other diseases or parasites. It’s tough to tell exactly how I died. I was likely eaten by a predator like a seal or bird. Poor habitat, pollution, and an unbalanced food web could have contributed to my death, but it could have also been simple bad luck. Some salmon and steelhead will always naturally die during our outmigration because of predators.

Whatever the cause of my death, it all happened way too soon. I joined the ranks of all the other steelhead who didn’t survive this migration. To all my friends who didn’t make it, you gave it your all and I’m proud of you! A moment of silence for the fallen, please: Willy, Stormy, Steel(head), Ray, Coder, April, Arluq, Sergeant Snackbar, Sammy, Lunch Box, Boom, Habitat, Hank (that’s me), Brian Mackerel, Chowder, Finn Geneer, Salmon Ella, Sushi, Dawg Paddle, EnviroMatt, Floundry10, Utilifish, BackJack, Forest, Little Red, Lulu, Swedish, Anna Dromous, Goldie, Financial Finn, Fishy McFishface, The Swiss, Neptune, King Tony, Puget Pounder, Scifi, Eddy Gar, Rainbow, Trigger, Venti, and Bodhi.

To the seven survivors, I wish you all the luck in the world in that great big ocean!

Survive the Sound 2022's 7 survivors

My final resting spot

The final standings

day 5 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.

Watershed: A land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays, and the ocean.

Day 5 videos

You already know that I came from the Nisqually watershed, but take a few minutes to learn about where my friends came from - the Skokomish and Duwamish watersheds. What's similar about the watersheds? What's different? And which one do you think gives juvenile steelhead the best chance of survival?

day 5 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

The right answer is "d." Up to 50% of juvenile steelhead that make it to the bridge do not survive past it. Isn't that crazy? Addressing environmental problems involving public infrastructure is no easy task. Everyone pays for it, benefits 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 2023. I hope my journey inspired you to help protect my friends and me!

About harbor seals

Salmon are an important part of our life and diet, but we share this resource with many other species. Birds, seals, sea lions, bears, porpoise, whales, and other fish all depend on salmon for a portion of their diet. With salmon and steelhead populations at risk, many people are asking if too many mouths are at the salmon buffet.

Current research suggests harbor seals are eating many salmon. In Puget Sound alone, the harbor seal population has increased three-fold since the 1980s, a time when our salmon survived at much higher rates. While researchers are still working to better understand their impact on salmon recovery, initial studies suggest seals and sea lions may be consuming two times as many Puget Sound salmon as are caught by humans, with seals being the primary consumer.

If a seal boom is contributing to the further decline of already-threatened salmon and steelhead populations in Puget Sound, researchers need to answer more questions to address the problem. How many seals should there be? What should they be eating? Who’s eating them, or isn’t eating them? Are there factors that make it easier for these predators to hunt salmon? While we don’t have complete answers to these questions, and continued research is absolutely critical to making thoughtful decisions, scientists’ work has uncovered some new ideas which give us options to start investing in solutions. Read more about who’s eating young salmon and steelhead.

Long Live the Kings uses "seal packs" to help research predator-prey interactions

Image Credit: Vancouver Aquarium.

About Tribes and Salmon

Tribes are leaders and invaluable partners in salmon management and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Tribal governments, staff, and members have provided integral support to the development and implementation of Survive the Sound. Learning about the importance of salmon to Tribal cultures and treaty rights is critical to informing the need to recover and protect them.

Listen and Learn: Tribal Perspectives of Salmon Recovery

Skokomish Tribe's Enatai Hatchery Provides Fishing Opportunities

Tribal people have always relied on the natural resources of this land. Today, treaty-reserved fishing rights enable Tribal people to fish in their usual and accustomed areas. Due to the decline of wild salmon, hatcheries have played an integral role in providing fishing opportunities for treaty fishing Tribes as well as non-Tribal fishers.

Skokomish Tribe's Estuary Restoration Supports Salmon Recovery

The Skokomish Tribe is leading the effort to protect and restore the natural habitat of the Skokomish River for the benefit of salmon, people, and all other species that inhabit the region. Hear from Habitat Manager Alex Gouley about the 10-year effort to restore the Skokomish Estuary.

sčədadxʷ (salmon)

sčədadxʷ (salmon) is an animated short featuring Billy Frank Jr. that takes the viewer up the river through the eyes of the salmon showing its pristine environment, its connection to the Pacific Northwest People, the arrival of the settlers, habitat degradation, and the unification of people throughout the world working together to save salmon and salmon habitat.

More resources

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission was created following the U.S. v. Washington ruling (Boldt decision) that reaffirmed the Tribes’ treaty-reserved fishing rights and established them as natural resources co-managers with the state of Washington. NWIFC provides support services to member tribes in areas such as fisheries management, harvest monitoring, habitat restoration, climate response, salmon recovery and fish health.

Salmon Defense

Salmon Defense is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed by Treaty Tribes in 2003 with the goal of increasing public awareness and education, and supporting legal actions to protect and defend Pacific Northwest salmon and their habitat. Salmon Defense envisions a healthy environment for all of the region’s inhabitants now and in the future. It derives its mission from an understanding and appreciation of traditional and contemporary knowledge and values of the Pacific Northwest Indian Tribes.

Native Knowledge 360

Native Knowledge 360° provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. NK360° provides educational materials, virtual student programs, and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America. NK360° challenges common assumptions about Native peoples and offers a view that includes not only the past but also the vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission logo
Salmon Defense logo
Native Knowledge 360 logo

That's a wrap!

Let's wrap up this year's race with a fun and easy way to remember the names of the Pacific Northwest's five iconic salmon species. Just look at your fingers!

Join Team #Bothell again next May to follow a new set of young steelhead during Survive the Sound 2023. I hope my journey inspired you to help protect my friends and me! We can all do simple things to help protect our environment. Learn how you can help locally...starting right now!

Use your fingers to remember the Pacific Northwest Salmon Species

Use your fingers to remember the Pacific Northwest Salmon Species

See you next year!

Survive the Sound is provided by Long Live the Kings, a local organization whose goals include implementing solutions to rebuild salmon and steelhead populations in Hood Canal and Puget Sound, unraveling the mystery of low salmon survival in the Salish Sea, advancing science, and retooling management throughout the Pacific Northwest.