Bristol Bay Headwaters Field Study

Salmon Science

Explore Bristol Bay headwaters with a Conservancy field crew.


In 2008-2010, Conservancy field teams conducted anadromous fish surveys in the lakes and streams of the Nushagak-Mulchatna and Kvichak headwaters.

The field research in the upper reaches of the Nushagak and Kvichak has demonstrated that virtually all water bodies in the area are important for salmon. In fact, salmon were documented in approximately 75 percent of the streams surveyed, many of them small streams less than 10 feet wide. These healthy watersheds are essential for migrating salmon, rearing salmon, and spawning salmon in Bristol Bay.

The lakes and streams identified by the Conservancy are now eligible for the most stringent safeguards currently available under Alaska state law.

The results:

  • The nomination of 104 miles of streams to the state's Anadromous Waters Catalog. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game maintains anadromous waters data in the Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning, Rearing or Migration of Anadromous Fishes and its associated Atlas. This database currently contains the 16,000 streams, rivers and lakes in Alaska which have been recognized as important spawning, rearing or migration habitat.
  • In 2009, the Conservancy field crews substantiated 222 miles of salmon streams that had been included in the Alaska Anadromous Waters Catalog but without substantiating data.



Nominated stream reaches in 2010:

  • Unnamed tributaries of Kaskanak Creek

Nominated stream reaches in 2009:

  • Iliamna tributary
  • Kaskanak Creek
  • Koktuli River
  • Lower Talarik Creek
  • Newhalen Creek
  • N. Fork Koktuli River
  • Pickerel Lakes
  • S. Fk. Koktuli River
  • Sucker Bay
  • Upper Talarik Creek

Nominated stream reaches in 2008:

  • South Fork Koktuli River
  • Upper Talarik Creek
  • North Fork Koktuli River

Scientific Literature

Field crews used sampling protocols developed by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Field volunteers relied on electro-fishing to gather data such as species presence and size.


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