North Cascades National Park Fish

Perhaps the best known icon of the Pacific Northwest is the salmon. The Skagit River Watershed is the only watershed in the US to have runs of all Pacific salmon species: chinook (king), coho, chum, pink and sockeye. Every autumn between August and December, thousands of salmon work their way up the Skagit River, struggling against the current and leaping high out of the cascading whitewater to reach their spawning beds. The spectacle not only draws curious tourists but also hundreds of bald eagles that come to feed on the salmon and their spawned-out corpses.

While thousands of fish return each year, many salmon runs have been in decline for many years as a result of logging, dams, over-harvesting, cross-breeding with genetically inferior hatchery fish and a variety of other factors. Puget Sound Chinook salmon was listed as a threatened species in 1999. The Coastal Puget Sound bull trout (char), a distinct population segment of bull trout, was also listed as threatened in 1999 and the Baker River sockeye, the only native "lake-type" sockeye in the Puget Sound, may be threatened.

The other varieties of trout found in the waters of the North Cascades include steelhead (sea-run rainbow), resident rainbow, sea-run cutthroat and resident cutthroat, all of which are evolutionary relatives of salmon known as salmonids.

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