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Governor Inslee Announces Orca Recovery Task Force

For Immediate Release
March 14, 2018


***Statement from Jacques White, Executive Director, Long Live the Kings***

Long Live the Kings is leading a research project to determine why Chinook salmon, a critical component of Orcas’ diet, are dying in Puget Sound.

Jacques White, 206-718-5061, Executive Director, Long Live the Kings
Michael Schmidt, 206-669-7276, Deputy Director, Long Live the Kings

“Governor Inslee’s announcement today recognizes the urgency of our Orcas’ plight – it’s getting harder and harder for Orcas in Puget Sound to find enough salmon to eat, escape noise and traffic, and resist the toxic pollution building up in their bodies.”

“The bad news is that Orcas are in serious trouble and we have a long road ahead to make Puget Sound a safer, healthier place for Orcas. The good news is that the actions needed to help Orcas will improve the overall health of Puget Sound for all of us. Cleaner water, stronger salmon runs, smarter hatchery management and restored natural areas will make Puget Sound a better, more productive place for people as well as Orcas.”

Chinook salmon are a critical component of our resident Orcas’ diet. Driven to help restore Chinook populations that are essential to Orca survival, Long Live the Kings has convened The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project uniting U.S. and Canadian researchers to determine why juvenile Chinook, coho, and steelhead are dying in our combined waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, collectively known as the Salish Sea.

About Long Live the Kings
Long Live the Kings (LLTK) works to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since its founding in 1986, LLTK has combined innovative field work, pioneering science, broad partnerships, and sophisticated new management tools to help decision-makers advance salmon recovery while balancing the needs of fish and people.


ACTION: Tell your state legislators to save our Washington state fish!

We need your help! Steelhead have been suffering huge losses on their trek through Puget Sound and are at risk of extinction.

Please call or email your state legislator by February 10, and ask them to support the ‘Recover Puget Sound Steelhead’ request in the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2018 supplemental budget (request details attached). It’s that easy!

Who’s your state legislator? Find out here and make a call for fish!

The legislative session is short, so act by February 10 to make sure your voice is heard!

Not sure what to say? Use this language in your correspondence:

Please support the ‘Recover Puget Sound

Steelhead’ request for$793,000 in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2018 supplemental budget. It is the last of the funding needed to address severe threats to steelhead in our Puget Sound marine environment Problems like contaminants, disease, and predation have already been identified, and researchers are close to providing solutions.

The request is part of the international, collaborative Salish Sea Marine Survival project to determine why young Chinook, coho and steelhead are dying in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Previous appropriations by Washington State totaling $1.6 million have been leveraged by $17 million raised, and equal in-kind support, from the 60 public, private and nonprofit groups affiliated with the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.

Juvenile Chinook Samples

LISTEN: Microsoft Grant Shows How Artificial Intelligence Could Help Salmon Recovery (KNKX)

By Bellamy Pailthorp, KNKX

One of the biggest mysteries among people working on salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea is what happens to juvenile fish once they head for the ocean. Survival rates of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead have all declined since the 1980s, but resource managers don’t know why.

A new grant from Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to greatly improve the computer models used to tackle the question.

A collaborative effort called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project has been around for nearly a decade. It unites the work of 60 different scientific and non-profit entities, all trying to understand what is preventing salmon and steelhead from coming home. They already use sophisticated computer models to compile field data and answer some questions.

“Like how do short and long-term changes in like circulation, water chemistry — how do they affect salmon and other relevant species in Puget Sound,” explains Hem Nalini Morzaria-Luna, an ecosystem modeler with the non-profit Long Live the Kings.

Morzaria-Luna, who works with field data from all over the region, says the recent grant from Microsoft has vastly improved the speed and capability of their modeling. Using artificial intelligence tools such as machine learning, they can dig in to much more complicated questions, for example comparing hundreds of slightly different answers to one question about available food and its effects on survival rates.

“Like, what happens if instead of 70 percent herring and 30 percent other species, what happens if that is 60 percent or 65 percent or 85 percent? It seems like a trivial question, but it actually in the end has important management implications. And before, we haven’t been able to ask those questions,” she says.

She says the relatively small grant from Microsoft (it’s valued at about $10,000 for software, in kind) has the potential to improve not just the Puget Sound model, but several others on a widely-used platform from Australia, called Atlantis.

At first thought, it might seem odd that organisms as delicate as endangered salmon and other marine species could be helped with the slick technology tools that enable modern life.

But Long Live the Kings Deputy Director Michael Schmidt says Microsoft Azure and the cloud-computing and artificial intelligence it enables is just what the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project needs, to propel research that can inform ecosystem management and policy decisions.

“Machine learning is often applied to areas where you have lots of uncertainty, where there is lots of unknown and where you’re trying to process a lot of information,” Schmidt says.

Read the full article here.

Long Live the Kings Awarded AI for Earth Grant from Microsoft

Long Live the Kings has been awarded a grant from Microsoft as part of its ‘AI for Earth’ program. The grant will be used to power an intensive ecosystem model of Puget Sound.

AI for Earth is a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities, while accelerating innovation, via the Azure for Research AI for Earth award program, Microsoft provides selected researchers and organizations access to its cloud and AI computing resources to accelerate, improve and expand work on climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and/or water challenges.

Long Live the Kings, a nonprofit with over 30 years of experience recovering wild salmon and steelhead and supporting sustainable fisheries, is among the first grant recipients of AI for Earth, which was first launched in July 2017. The grant process was a competitive and selective process and was awarded in recognition of the potential of the work and power of AI to accelerate progress.

“Microsoft’s Azure platform gives us the capacity, power and speed to rapidly assess impacts to our Puget Sound food web that may ultimately be affecting the salmon we care so much about,” said Long Live the Kings Deputy Director, Michael Schmidt.

The ecological model Azure supports is part of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a 60 entity, $20 million effort to determine why juvenile salmon are dying in our combine marine waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Bolstering marine ecosystem modeling with Azure cloud computing will provide natural resource mangers the opportunity to understand how changes to our ecosystem (pollution, warming waters, etc.) will affect salmon and other key Puget Sound species, such as killer whales and shellfish.

To date, Microsoft has distributed more than 35 grants to qualifying researchers and organizations around the world. Microsoft recently announced their intent to put $50 million over 5 years into the program, enabling grant-making and educational trainings possible at a much larger scale.

More information can be found on these websites:
AI for Earth: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/aiforearth
Long Live the Kings: https://lltk.org/
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project: https://marinesurvivalproject.com/

Ready, Set, Migrate!

Survive the Sound Returns Spring 2018.

With over 1,100 steelhead sponsorships from friends, family, and coworkers, Survive the Sound made a big splash in its 2017 pilot year. Only 6 of the original 48 steelhead survived, but participants walked away with two clear messages: Puget Sound steelhead are struggling to survive, and it’s up to us to save them. Thank you to all who participated and made this innovative, new campaign a reality!

In case you missed the excitement last spring and are still puzzled by conversations comparing the prospects of Fishy McFishface and Lulu, Survive the Sound is an interactive game that uses real data from migrating wild steelhead to create competition between friends, family and colleagues. Something along the lines of fantasy football for fish. Basically, tracking data from wild steelhead is collected and shared with players through the Survive the Sound website. Players sponsored a fish and followed the perilous journey to the ocean.

Before the migration began in early May, participants connected with each other on the app, gifted fish to thankful friends, and sponsored multiple fish to increase their odds of survival. During the two-week migration, everyone was gripped to their smartphones, eagerly waiting for the latest updates on their fish’s miraculous progress or unfortunate demise. Consequently, non-participants were subjected to a boatload of fishy puns during the migration – our fincerest apologies.

This spring, everyone gets another opportunity to follow these funny-looking fish. Fish selection will open in early March 2018 at SurvivetheSound.org. Still not sure if you’re in? Here are a few new reasons to participate in Survive the Sound this year:

Survive the Sound in the Classroom
First and Second graders learning about salmon and steelhead using Survive the Sound.
  • Support FREE access to Survive the Sound for teachers – Beginning in March, educators will be able to join Survive the Sound using a free gift card.  (enroll for the gift card now using this form). LLTK is also partnering with NOAA to create a salmon and steelhead educational toolkit with STEM learning opportunities which complements the Survive the Sound experience.
  • Form a CUSTOM team – Salmon and steelhead supporters will be able to create and name a team in order to gather support for recovery efforts. To join a team, users can contribute as little as $5, but for every $25 a team raises, they’ll be able to pick a new fish, increasing the team’s chance of an overall win.
  • Play this FUN game with your coworkers – LLTK will help get you and your coworkers involved with salmon and steelhead recovery with an employee engagement toolkit and bulk fish sponsorship packages. Build camaraderie with friendly competition and a healthy dose of science, all for a good cause. Contact sts@lltk.org for more information.



Signing up
Survive the Sound participates struggling to decide which fish to pick.

Supporting threatened steelhead populations is no game – except when it is. Help us grow Survive the Sound by spreading the word.

  • Ask your employer to become a corporate campaign sponsor – Survive the Sound now has corporate sponsorship opportunities that will recognize your company’s valuable contribution to an effort that will reach thousands of people. Contact sts@lltk.org for more information.Survive the Sound participates struggling to decide which fish to pick.
  • Connect with local educators – Don’t let classrooms miss out on an opportunity to participate in Survive the Sound for free! Tell them to enroll here, or share an informational sheet that you’ll find here.




Boy watching salmon

The Latest from Glenwood Springs

Your passion for the region, salmon, and their ecosystem fuels real solutions for a sustainable and thriving Pacific Northwest! 

The Latest from Mike

Mike O’Connell, resident Chinook expert and Facility Manager at Glenwood Springs for 16 years, reports another year of strong returns with large, beautiful fish. Mike’s latest count totaled at 410 and they’re still coming in – he expects more than 700 to show up.

Fish toss
Mike O’Connell, Glenwood Springs facility manager moving a fish into a holding pond.

“The fish look big this year,” said Mike, “It could be because they’ve been able to find more food or these big fish may have stayed out in the ocean or Salish Sea for longer. We’ll only be able to tell after checking the coded wire tags.”

LLTK’s Glenwood facility releases about 700,000 Chinook smolts each year, mass-marking all of them, and inserting coded wire tags into about

100,000. “Mass-marking” refers to the practice of clipping the adipose fin to signify to fishers that a particular fish is from a hatchery and is okay to keep and eat. Mike regularly dissects fish heads in order to check them for coded wire tags, which give him information about the fish’s origin and release data.

What’s with the fascination with fish heads? It’s believed that many Chinook caught from the Glenwood facility are never identified as such, so knowing how many Glenwood Springs Chinook are caught is one way we can understand the effects of our efforts. If you’d like to help us analyze our impact, Mike is happy to receive your frozen fish heads and listen to your fish stories. So, if you catch a Chinook in the San Juan’s without an adipose fin, freeze the head and contact Mike at moconnell@lltk.org.

Glenwood Springs Rearing Pond
About this special place…  LLTK’s Glenwood Springs Field Station is on Orcas Island, located on a beautiful piece of  property just west of Mt. Constitution owned and stewarded by the family of LLTK’s Founder. The facility is proud to rear Chinook to help nourish the local population of endangered Orca whales, provide more opportunities for fishers, and create a deeper community connection to the Salish Sea. Because few, if any, Glenwood fish stray to mainland rivers, wild populations are shielded from negative effects of interbreeding with hatchery fish.

Salmon Homecoming 2017

Pizza time at Glenwood Springs
Salmon Homecoming event hostess, Kathy Youngren, points out the best slices of pizza to her younger guests.

On September 16th, over 100 family, friends, and community members joined Long Live the Kings for the 2017 Salmon Homecoming event at Glenwood Springs.

We send huge thanks to Jim and Kathy Youngren for opening their home to the community, which allowed guests to welcome home hundreds of huge Chinook while visiting with wonderful people, eating delicious grilled salmon, wood-fired pizza, and tasty sides (courtesy of our incredibly generous sponsors!). Check out the photo album here.

LLTK was also grateful to welcome representatives from the Lummi Nation, who spoke of the significance of place and the land on which Glenwood Springs resides.

A Special New Partnership

Nic and Jim
Lummi Nation Councilman Nic Lewis addresses Salmon Homecoming guests along slide LLTK Founder, Jim Youngren.

The 2017 Salmon Homecoming not only connected guests to the returning Chinook and community members, but also featured a beautiful demonstration of a special new partnership with the Lummi Nation.

In addition to supporting the Bellingham Bay fishery through Chinook production, Glenwood Springs holds significant meaning to the Tribe’s history as well.

Councilman Nic Lewis addressed an enraptured crowd stating, “… this is where my ancestors are buried, right down there by the water today… I went and laid down on the beach, and again I found another arrowhead from my ancestors. Something with this property is really touching me in my heart… this is a place that’s really showing that our ancestors are still here and looking over us.”

A special sense of place can be found at Glenwood Springs. With a unique combination of natural beauty and ideal salmon-rearing conditions, it provides an essential resource to the community, and may also serve an important function in years to come. Leading by example, this year the the Lummi Nation provided a very generous $15,000 grant to Glenwood Springs.

As Councilman Lewis stated, the Lummi support this work “… so that the generations that come after us, those not born yet, can see it in all its beauty. As native people, this property represents everything we stand to protect.”

The meaningful contribution comes at a critical time, as Glenwood Springs lost $50,000 in public funding in 2017.

Glenwood has always received a significant level of support from the San Juan community, but grants and private funds like these are becoming even more critical to ensure we can continue to provide sustainable Chinook to our fisheries and killer whales.

Glenwood Springs FAQ

Fish in holding pond
Chinook salmon in the holding pond, waiting for spawning.

While drooling over our Chinook ponds, people often ask Mike what Long Live the Kings does with all the fish. A number of the fish are used to collect the 800,000 eggs necessary to sustain the annual returns at Glenwood.

Once eggs are collected, spawned carcasses are used to either enrich Glenwood’s stream with natural nutrients or are composted for use by the Orcas Island community. One only has to visit some of the local farmers at the Saturday market in East Sound to know that fish carcasses from Glenwood Springs are put to good use.

Fish not used for spawning are given to local schools, the Orcas Island Food Bank, and sold to local stores. Nothing goes to waste! To learn more about Glenwood Springs, and LLTK’s other efforts on Hood Canal and the Salish Sea, click here.


The Fish on my Plate

Join LLTK for a screening of the PBS documentary “The Fish On My Plate”

How do humans affect fish?
How do fish affect humans?
How does the human-fish relationship affect the ecosystem?

Join Long Live the Kings, the nonprofit behind the Glenwood Springs Salmon Hatchery to explore these questions with a special, curated screening of “The Fish on My Plate”, a 2017 Frontline documentary exploring the complex connections between fish, humans, health, and conservation.

Where: Eastsound Odd Fellows Hall – 112 Haven Road, Eastsound, WA 98245

When: Thursday, September 14th – 6:30pm

Suggested donation is $5/person. All proceeds support Long Live the Kings and the Glenwood Springs Salmon Hatchery.

LLTK Executive Director, Jacques White Ph.D, will provide context for the documentary and serve as moderator of a post-screening Q&A session. In light of the recent escapement of Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, the relationship between fish and people requires careful reflection and community discussion more than ever.

Jacques will supplement the dialogue with current scientific findings, and share how Long Live the Kings’ work to recover salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea intersects with “The Fish on My Plate”.

“The Fish on My Plate”

Best-selling author and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg spends a year eating fish at breakfast, lunch and dinner to help answer the question: “What fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?” Greenberg travels from Peru to Norway in this documentary that tracks Greenberg’s year-long journey to identify which fish are the healthiest for human consumption and what our involvement can mean to the ecosystem as a whole. He also examines challenges to harvest of wild fish and aquaculture which is especially relevant in light of recent events in Puget Sound.

Long Live the Kings and Partners Awarded $750K to Address Steelhead Deaths Around Floating Bridge

Approximately 65% of juvenile, out-migrating steelhead that make it to the Hood Canal floating bridge do not make it to Admiralty Inlet, a location just North of the bridge on their migratory route. This high level of mortality may be limiting the species’ recovery, as steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Long Live the Kings (LLTK), a Seattle-based environmental 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 30 years of experience in salmon recovery, is leading a team to pin-point exactly how steelhead are dying in the area and discover if the floating bridge impacts water quality. A $750,000 appropriation in Washington State’s 2017-2018 biennial budget was recently received in support of the current, $2.5 million, phase of the Hood Canal  Bridge Ecosystem Impact Assessment.

LLTK’s Executive Director, Jacques White commented, “Long Live the Kings has been working with our partners from around Hood Canal to address a significant survival bottleneck for our state fish. This project is an example of cooperative work to sustain both the environment and people by leveraging regional expertise and resources to improve wild fish survival without undermining the importance of critical transportation

Scott Brewer, Executive Director of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council and a key partner in the project added, “The Hood Canal Coordinating Council works with the community to protect and recover Hood Canal’s environmental, economic, and cultural well being. Recovering wild steelhead populations is an important component of that goal and the recent appropriation to the bridge assessment will help ensure our success.”

Work on phase 1 of the Assessment officially began in late 2016 and will continue into early 2019, taking advantage of two field research seasons. The 2017 research period was successfully completed this summer and scientists are processing data that will provide additional insight. During phase 1, scientists will assess the impact of local predators, light and noise from the bridge, water circulation, and track juvenile steelhead using specially designed devices. The data will help determine cost effective solutions that do not affect the bridge’s transportation functions.

The $750k state appropriation was championed by Senator Christine Rolfes (D-23) and Representative Drew MacEwen (R-35). Through the efforts of LLTK, Hood Canal Coordinating Council, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, state legislators, and others, the appropriation received bipartisan support and was included in the operating budget during a legislative session with a historic number of demands on the State’s funds. Other legislators were also critical to the appropriation’s success, including: Senator Tim Sheldon (D-35), Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24), Senator Dino Rossi (R-45), Senator Kevin Ranker (D-40), Representative Sherry Appleton (D-23), Representative Drew Hansen (D-23), Representative Steve Tharinger (D-24), Representative Mike Chapman (D-24), and Representative Dan Griffey (R-35). The appropriation added to a pool of federal, private, local, and state funds, which has reached $2.25 million. The remaining need is $250,000.

“We need to know why these fish are disappearing in the vicinity of the bridge and we need to work together to address the changes that may be necessary. The lessons learned from this project may be applicable to bridge infrastructure in other parts of the state and nation, contributing to a healthier marine environment. The legislative delegation from the peninsula region was united in our support of this work,” said Senate Rolfes.

Steelhead are essentially rainbow trout with a life cycle similar to salmon where they return to their stream of origin to spawn after maturing in the ocean. Salmon and steelhead are important cultural resources for local Native American Tribes, they are a fixture in the Pacific Northwest economy and day-to-day life, and are critical to the health of the local environment. The steelhead is also Washington’s state fish.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has fishing areas in Hood Canal which are an important part of their cultural heritage. “Since Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe helped initiate the project in 2012, we’ve made great progress,” said Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s Natural Resource Director, Paul McCollum. “Steelhead are an important tribal resource and we are pleased to see the state’s recent investment to protect tribal rights by working towards improving steelhead populations.”

The Hood Canal Bridge is the third largest floating bridge in the world and provides a valuable connection for thousands of people each day traveling from the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas in Western Washington. The bridge’s pontoons span 83% of the width of the canal and extend 15 feet underwater. The Hood Canal is a fjord, and the bridge’s pontoons pose a potential limit on the exchange of fresh and salt water that is necessary to preserve water quality and prevent harmful conditions for aquatic species.

Other partners include: Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Navy.

To learn more here and follow LLTK on Facebook.

Take Necessary Steps to Save Our Salmon

I. Long Live the Kings joins other state, federal and tribal leaders supporting a moratorium on new net pens in Puget Sound. With the recent major escapement of Atlantic Salmon from Cooke Aquaculture’s net pens near Cypress Island, our community must seriously evaluate whether the potential economic benefits of rearing Atlantic Salmon in Puget Sound net pens are outweighed by the risks to our fisheries, our southern resident killer whales, and our legacy of wild salmon.

Damaged Net Pens
Damaged net pens near Cypress Island, Image from the Seattle Times.

These risks include amplifying salmon diseases and parasites in native fish populations and polluting surrounding waters.  When Atlantic salmon escape, there is potential competition with and displacement of native fish as well as the problem of incidental catch as unwanted non-native salmon are targeted and removed.  All of these risks clearly increase with numbers and geographic distribution of open net pen operations in our environment.

II. Long Live the Kings further calls for more robust oversight by state and federal agencies of existing net pen operations.  Additional resources will be required to adequately assure the public that risks are being minimized, and these resources should not simply be shifted from other critical salmon management and restoration activities.

State and federal permitting agencies must hold Cooke Aquaculture accountable for damage and potential damage resulting from this incident.  The permitting agencies must strengthen permit conditions and more closely monitor net pens to ensure that permit conditions are adhered to by all operators. If not, permits should be terminated.

We encourage state and federal agencies, tribes, and private individuals to actively monitor the impact of this release of Atlantic salmon on marine and freshwater environments in the Salish Sea.  Activities to recapture or monitor Atlantic salmon must be conducted within current fishing regulations and only in areas currently open to salt and freshwater fishing. In responding to the release of a non-native species, we must take care not to multiply threats to the same native salmon populations we’re trying to save.

Atlantic Salmon
Picture of Atlantic salmon for identification. Notice the spots on the gills. Image courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

III. Long Live the Kings salutes our many partners and the host of NGO’s and state, tribal and federal agency personnel who, like us, are working to advance salmonid science, improve management, and implement solutions to the major impacts on our salmon populations. The general public has also proven a powerful voice in creating momentum to address the known risks posed by net pens.

Atlantic Salmon catch
Angler cleaning up escaped Atlantic salmon. Photo taken by Heidi Sachs.

The question still remains whether addressing net pens will be enough to save our salmon. Our answer is no, it will not be enough.  LLTK and other organizations need the public’s ardent and passionate support to help save this Pacific Northwest icon. The hurdles are significant – many stocks are dangerously depleted – and our work to recover wild salmon clearly is incomplete.

Nevertheless, LLTK’s commitment is unwavering and real progress is being made. By tirelessly working alongside other passionate partners to improve harvest and hatchery management, address habitat loss, overcome migration barriers, avoid and deal with disease and contaminant challenges, and understand the impact of climate change on salt and freshwater environments and food resources our native salmon rely on, we’re moving the needle on recovery of this magical fish.

IV. Our Northwest regional identity cannot be defined without salmon. These fish have nourished, inspired, and captivated us all for eons.  It is a hallmark of our community with its remarkable endurance, spiritual influence, and economic impact.  We at Long Live the Kings believe that our region can absorb a growing human population, sustain a thriving environment and economy, and uphold strong and vibrant salmon and steelhead runs.

We invite you to join us.


Other resources: 

WDFW resources on Atlantic salmon.

Press release from Senator Patty Murray.

A scientific perspective on the Atlantic salmon release by Joe Gaydos.

Jocelyn painting

Meet The Artist Behind Survive the Sound

This year’s rollout of the Survive the Sound campaign, presented in partnership with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., shed new light on salmon and steelhead recovery. The campaign invited community members to sponsor juvenile steelhead as they competed for survival during a race to the Pacific Ocean. Gorgeous graphic design by Vulcan Inc. and Matterhorn Creative contributed to the campaign’s success, but the whimsical and creative steelhead avatar illustrations took center stage.

Survive the Sound Avatar - Sci-fi

Visual/UI designer and illustrator Jocelyn Li Langrand brought the steelhead avatar concepts developed by LLTK staff to life as beautiful pieces of art. Jocelyn devoted over 100 hours to creating all 48 fish and many people now want to know more about this talented illustrator. LLTK took the time to speak with Jocelyn about her life, her experience with Survive the Sound, and her relationship with the natural environment.

Jocelyn was born and raised in Shenzhen, Southern China. In middle school, she was always the one designing & drawing on the black chalkboard in the back of the classroom, but no one realized she was training for her future career. “It was more like a small hobby… Graphic design wasn’t well appreciated in China back then and it was hard to take it seriously,” said Jocelyn.

Jocelyn's blackboard

When Jocelyn moved to the US to study as an undergrad, she was faced with one of the most daunting tasks of college – picking a major. With the diversity of pathways for a young artist at an American college, there were many options. A practical student, she thought she might become an interior designer or even an accountant. Needless to say, life had other plans for Jocelyn. Her artistic aptitude blossomed, and she completed a degree in visual communication design at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

After graduating, Jocelyn began a career as a visual and user interface (UI) designer employed by various Fortune 500 companies in the Seattle area. You may have seen her creations previously without realizing it! Building on her design expertise, Jocelyn followed her passion and launched a career as a freelance illustrator. Jocelyn told us, “I wasn’t able to create and express myself and wanted to make the jump into illustrations before I had children.”

During this time Jocelyn drew inspiration from a Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao, whose art gained popularity in numerous newspapers and children’s books. Liao defined himself by going beyond traditional children’s art and captured more adult themes, sometimes depicting lonely, sad, or even dark images. Jocelyn finds motivation in Liao’s perspective on illustration, and she takes an important part of his philosophy to heart – just keep drawing every day. For one of Jocelyn’s most ambitious projects, she set out to produce 100 8×8 watercolor illustrations depicting a character called Mr. Diggle. The illustrations were inspired by experiences in Jocelyn’s life, dreams, and day-to-day happenings. To Jocelyn’s surprise, she spent 2 years completing all 100 drawings. You can see “100 days of Mr. Diggle” on her Instagram account.

Fall is here, so is halloween.
Jocelyn Li Langrand – Fall is here, so is halloween. 66/100 #100daysofmrdiggle

When asked about her experience with Survive the Sound, Jocelyn said, “I am very happy to be involved with [Survive the Sound].” When she was first given a list of 48 fish names with a loose description of each fish, she began by trying to understand our wacky puns. Once Jocelyn caught onto our sometimes obscure references, she explored her options in her favorite medium, watercolor and ink. Folks at LLTK and Vulcan Inc. were blown away by her initial designs, so she went to work creating all 48 unique fish digitally. Each week, LLTK staff waited with much excitement to see her latest batch of fish.

When LLTK asked Jocelyn about her relationship with salmon and the natural environment, she giggled saying, “No relation [to salmon] other than eating it.” She went on to describe how she made hooks and went fishing with her grandpa during her childhood and noted that as salmon populations decline in North America, she has observed prices for salmon in Asia increasing.

10:28am, Sunday morning.
Jocelyn Li Langrand – 10:28am, Sunday morning. 91/100 #100daysofmrdiggle

During her 11-year residence in Seattle, Jocelyn was impressed by the city’s connection to nature. She feels that, “[people] take Seattle for granted, but when you fly into Seattle it’s like being comforted in a big green blanket.” She further explained, “[it is] such a blessing to be around nature and having water in the city.”

Jocelyn believes that, “Art connects people. For me, every time I experience art it opens up my mind. It’s the story behind the art that gets people. Just a little background story gets that image stuck in your head and makes it so powerful and connects it to your life. [It makes you] care about things you might not have cared about before. It makes you a better person, because you think more of yourself.” We hope that Jocelyn’s Survive the Sound illustrations make people think twice about steelhead and their relationship to our lives, and realize the vulnerability of Puget Sound steelhead; without a concerted effort, they will slip into extinction. As Jocelyn puts it, “[they] might not be there for your children or your children’s children.”

Jocelyn recently moved to San Francisco and is currently working on her first children’s book and a separate coffee table book, which features her 100 days of Mr. Diggle project. She enjoys spending time with her husband and one-year-old son and continues to draw every day. LLTK hopes she will join us in making Survive the Sound even better in 2018.

Jocelyn headshot

You can contact Jocelyn through Instagram (@jocelynlilangrand). For more information on Survive the Sound, please email sts@lltk.org. To purchase a poster of Jocelyn’s Survive the Sound fish, visit the LLTK online store.