Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 357–375 | Cite as

Comparative migratory behavior and survival of wild and hatchery steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts in riverine, estuarine, and marine habitats of Puget Sound, Washington

  • Fred A. GoetzEmail author
  • Eric Jeanes
  • Megan E. Moore
  • Thomas P. Quinn


Declines in the survival of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations in protected waters of Washington and British Columbia have drawn attention to the need for more information on migratory patterns and losses in river, estuary, and nearshore habitats. Accordingly, acoustic telemetry was used to quantify movements by wild and hatchery steelhead smolts released from 2006 to 2009 in the Green River, and tracked through Puget Sound, Washington. Survival varied by release group and migration segment but overall survival rates from release to the Strait of Juan de Fuca were 9.7 % for wild and 3.6 % for hatchery fish. These rates are low relative to similar studies on steelhead. Survival was higher for wild fish along all migration segments than hatchery-origin fish; the greatest loss for both groups coincided with the slowest travel rates as fish first entered the estuary and as they exited Puget Sound. Wild fish travelled faster than hatchery fish in the river (15.1 vs. 4.4 km/d) with the fastest travel in the lower river (41 vs. 20.2 km/d) and slowest immediately after release (3.7 vs. 2.4 km/d). The travel rates of wild and hatchery fish became progressively more similar over time: 15.4 vs. 10.6 km/d in the estuary, and 10.3 vs. 9.3 km/d in nearshore areas. Movement was primarily nocturnal in the river, nearly equal between day and night in the upper estuary, and predominately diurnal in the lower estuary and nearshore waters, with no difference between wild and hatchery fish. The migration in marine water showed an early offshore movement and a strong northward and westward orientation, and all fish exited the Strait of Juan de Fuca rather than the Strait of Georgia. The findings support research suggesting that declines in wild and hatchery steelhead populations may be caused primarily by factors in the early marine period.


Behavior Migration Oncorhynchus mykiss Survival Telemetry 



This study was supported by funding and/or in-kind assistance by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Seattle District US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), H. Mason Keeler Endowment to the University of Washington, Steelhead Trout Club of Washington (STC), King County Department of Natural Resources (KCDNR), Seattle City Light (SCL), Seattle Aquarium (SA), NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST), and Hydrophone Data Repository (HYDRA). This study was reviewed and approved by the University of Washington’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. We thank Bob Leland, Kelly Kiyohara, Pat Michael, Brody Antipa, Pete Topping, and Deborah Feldman of the WDFW for their efforts in project planning, smolt collection, hatchery rearing, tagging, and receiver deployment; Hal Boynton, John Kelly, Ed Conroy and other members of the STC for their enthusiasm and support; Kelly Andrews (NOAA Fisheries), Ed Connor (SCL), John Blaine and Jim Devereaux (KCNDR) for their assistance; Correigh Greene (NOAA), Shawn Larson and Jeff Christiansen (SA), Chuck Ebel (USACE), Kurt Dobszinsky, Paul Winchell, David Welch and Debbie Goetz for deployment of receivers, and Jose Reyes-Tomassini for assistance with the AquaTracker program. We also thank Jennifer Scheuerell, Chris Ewing, and Dawn Pucci (HYDRA) and Jose Gimenez and Aswea Porter (POST) for data sharing and management, and Jonathan Thar and Jim Bolger for helping expand the POST project to Puget Sound.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred A. Goetz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Eric Jeanes
    • 3
  • Megan E. Moore
    • 4
  • Thomas P. Quinn
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle DistrictSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesSeattleUSA
  3. 3.R2 Resource ConsultantsRedmondUSA
  4. 4.Resource Enhancement and Utilization Technologies Division, Northwest Fisheries Science CenterNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–FisheriesManchesterUSA

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