For more information on habitat issues, please contact the
WDFW Habitat Program.
habitatprogram@dfw.wa.gov
Phone: 360-902-2534

For more information on WDFW managed lands including wildlife areas, please contact the
WDFW Wildlife Program.
wildthing@dfw.wa.gov
Phone: 360-902-2515

 

Recreational Activities May Harm Salmon & Steelhead Spawning Beds

What is a redd?

A redd is a spawning nest that is built by salmon and steelhead in the gravel of streams or the shoreline of lakes. It is formed by the female using her tail to dig in a small area of gravel in the bottom of the stream or shore. Here she forms several depressions in the gravel forming egg pockets into which she deposits her eggs. The size of a redd depends on the size of the fish making the nest. In the following picture Chinook redds can be seen in the riverbed along the curve next to the forested riparian area. They are the light colored areas in the water. Although they are apparent in this aerial photograph they may be hard to see on the ground. Typically redds appear as lighter areas in the gravel since the gravel has been cleaned by the female’s movement of the gravel during spawning activity while the area around the redd appears darker due to the normal sediment and other biological material that remains on the undisturbed gravel.

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The following diagram identifies graphically what a typical redd looks like in profile. The downstream flow forces water through the gravel and across the buried eggs. This brings oxygen to the eggs and alevins while moving waste products away from the eggs. If the gravel becomes silted in then this process cannot occur effectively.

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It can also be seen that the eggs and alevin are found relatively close to the surface. This places them in a situation where they can be easily dislodged from the nest and float downstream where they are subject to predation or other mortality. The eggs or alevins are also vulnerable to crushing from either human or vehicular traffic. This can cause direct mortality.