Daniel Gutierrez

2013 Research Experience for Undergrads

Measuring the survival rate of gillnet scarred sockey salmon

Daniel GutierrezWhen I was accepted for the JISAO summer internship through the University of Washington, I was thrilled to learn that I would be living in Alaska for two months. Working with the Alaska salmon program, I had the opportunity to work alongside many grad students, staff, and professors to learn about the current research being done on Alaskan salmon and other Alaskan wildlife. In the beginning of the summer, frequent tasks were stream flows, beach seining, limnology, and coho salmon sampling. Later in the summer, other research involved surveying multiple streams in which live and dead sockeye salmon were counted. The dead were categorized either by natural death or by bear attack and odoliths were collected to determine a fishes age and growth rate. I was also able to assist in research pertaining to bear ecology, in which bear hair was collected to perform a genetic census.

In Alaska, I conducted my independent project based off the work of Matthew Baker and Dr. Daniel Schindler. For half of the summer, I surveyed the mouth of major creeks in Lake Aleknagik, recording the number of scarred and unscarred sockeye salmon. Sockeye get entangled with fishery gillnets on their return to the streams but are sometimes able to disentangle themselves and continue their journey, leaving them with scars in the process. At the mouths, I walked the adult beach seine around, and enclosed them. Once Daniel working in Alaskaenclosed in the net, a few of us would either unhook the ones that were tangled by their jaws, or use a dip net to capture the free-swimming fish. Once free, males and females were categorized by their level of scarring: level 0 – no traces of gillnet scarring on their bodies, level 1 – minor injuries including any evidence of gillnet entanglement including net marks and or scale loss, level 2 - moderate injuries including open wounds and or skin loss, and level 3 - severe injuries including large open wounds, fractured jaws or gill plates, from gillnets. This data was collected between July 24th and August 14th. Overall, there were not any discrete temporal patterns in the streams, but surprisingly, the females had a higher percentage and degree of scarring compared to males. This could be due to females smaller body size and jaws and their ability to disentangle more easily than the males. 
My internship with the Alaska salmon program over the summer was a once in a lifetime experience.

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Daniel's poster