The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been monitoring the offspring of Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Clearwater, Salmon, and Snake River drainages since 1985 using snorkel surveys. Snorkel surveys are conducted by crews across the state and are a lot different from swimming in the calm, warm waters of the Caribbean. They involve crawling upstream in Idaho’s cold, fast-flowing tributary streams to observe and count fishes.
Snorkeling is a great way to sample because of its low impact on the ecosystem. The data has been collected for several years, so there is plenty of information to compare. It is a quick process once the survey site is reached. In addition, crews can cover a lot of water in a relatively short time span.
Snorkel data shows us where Chinook salmon and steelhead populations are located, their densities, and where they return to spawn. This helps resource managers make informed decisions that affect Idaho’s Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.