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Survive the Sound 2022: take part in a death-defying migration

Survive the Sound returns with new ways to experience salmon & steelhead migration

For immediate release: 4/27/22

Seattle – Thousands of salmon lovers in Puget Sound and beyond are signing up for the 6th annual Survive the Sound, a virtual race to the ocean that invites players to experience life – and maybe death – from the perspective of a young steelhead. 

Graphic with a blue background reading "Pick from 48 fishy competitors", with the 48 colorful cartoon fish in 2022's Survive the Sound.

From May 2nd through 6th, participants watch on an interactive map as their fish embarks on a harrowing journey – avoiding predators, fighting disease, and navigating obstacles – on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Survive the Sound participants have until May 1st to pick their fish, build a team, and invite friends, family, coworkers, and classmates to race, competing to win a Grand Prize for the teams with the most surviving fish.

This free, interactive science game, based on migration data from real fish, is offered each spring by salmon recovery nonprofit Long Live the Kings (LLTK) to engage and educate the public about salmon and steelhead. Each of the race’s 48 creative fish avatars, most designed by artist Jocelyn Li Langrand, represents a real juvenile steelhead, implanted with an acoustic tag by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the alarmingly high death rates for these iconic, threatened Puget Sound fish. 

“The threats to species like salmon and steelhead are serious issues, but Survive the Sound is a fun way to get involved in the science and learn that the challenges are solvable,” said Jacques White, Executive Director of Long Live the Kings.  “We created the race to make salmon and salmon recovery accessible and engaging for everybody.”      

Survive the Sound participants have until May 1st to pick their fish, build a team, and invite friends, family, coworkers, and classmates to race. From May 2nd through 6th, participants watch on an interactive map as their fish embarks on a harrowing journey – avoiding predators, fighting disease, and navigating obstacles – on their way to the Pacific Ocean. 

Among the new fish joining the 2022 race are Hank and Cedar, designed by Native artists Jeanette Quintasket (Swinomish) and Paige Pettibon (Confederated Salish and Kootenai). Tribal governments, citizens, and staff are invaluable partners in salmon management and conservation in the Pacific Northwest and have provided integral support to Survive the Sound since the game began.  This year, LLTK has partnered with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and nonprofit Salmon Defense, with funding support from the Snoqualmie Tribe, to share resources on Tribes and salmon, highlighting treaty rights, cultural connections, and the leadership of Tribal communities in stewarding and recovering salmon today.

Cedar and Hank, two fish designed by Native artists, introduce classroom materials on Tribal roles in salmon management and recovery.

“What makes Survive the Sound so exciting is the large number of participants, integrating real data and spatial information about your own little steelhead, and the ability to track how many groups, schools and people participate in the program,” said Alex Gouley, habitat manager and Tribal member with the Skokomish Indian Tribe, who collaborated with LLTK on educational videos about the Tribe’s hatchery and habitat programs. “It’s important to the tribes because if we can enhance the participant’s knowledge of the salmon and habitat conditions then watershed resources will increase in value.”

“Our hope is that these educational materials will help Survive the Sound participants understand the role tribal natural resources managers play in salmon recovery, as well as the tribes’ connection to their ancestral lands,” said Peggen Frank, Salmon Defense Executive Director.

These resources will reach thousands of teachers and students, a core audience of Survive the Sound. This year, the entire Survive the Sound website, including classroom resources, is available in both English and Spanish, thanks to a grant from Boeing. Boeing’s support also funded educator tools exploring a variety of STEM careers, including interviews and live panels with local salmon scientists. Education research organization foundry10 has also contributed new marine science resources, as well as sponsoring this year’s educational Grand Prize of $1,500 for the school or classroom team with the most surviving fish at the end of the 5-day migration. The new lessons join LLTK’s suite of salmon education resources that support learning across multiple subjects, encouraging students of all backgrounds to see themselves as capable scientists, stewards, and advocates for salmon and the environment.

A juvenile steelhead carrying an acoustic tracker as it starts its migration journey.

“We love how approachable this activity is for learners who adopt a salmon,” said Lindsay Holladay Van Damme, Marine Science Program Developer at foundry10. “Just by participating, the questions start to flow out: Why did another salmon make it further than mine? Why did more salmon survive in the next river over? And since it’s all grounded in local data, there is an abundance of resources for educators to facilitate deeper exploration of these real-world questions beyond the game.”

It’s free to sign up for the game, thanks to support from sponsors who see Survive the Sound as a fun and engaging tool to raise awareness about the challenges facing Puget Sound species. Support for Survive the Sound 2022 comes from Boeing, the Snoqualmie Tribe, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, Tacoma Public Utilities, Puget Sound Steel, MiiR, Anthony’s Restaurants, foundry10, Puget Sound Express, FOX 13, Pike Place Fish Market, Pike Place Chowder, Montana Banana, Herrera, Environmental Science Associates, Manulife Investment Management, the Stalcup Family, University of Washington, Floyd Snider, BECU, TOTE Maritime, and PCC Community Markets. Participants can also donate to Survive the Sound to support LLTK’s mission to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

About Survive the Sound 2022:

Sign up for free at www.survivethesound.org by May 1.

Migration dates: May 2 – 6

General Public Grand Prize: Free chowder from Pike Place Chowder and a Hood Canal Bridge boat cruise with Puget Sound Express

Classroom Grand Prize: $1,500 educational grant from foundry10 

How Survive the Sound Works

Each year, wild steelhead are caught as they make their way downriver from their birth streams. LLTK and partners implant the fish with tracking devices as part of their larger research efforts to understand juvenile salmonid survival in the Salish Sea. Each tag emits a unique acoustic ping heard by receivers placed underwater throughout Puget Sound. This tracking data can supply locations and sometimes depth and temperature. The steelhead in Survive the Sound represent real fish that were tracked in the past and scientists at LLTK pick a representative sample of 48 fish to include each year. 

Why it Matters

Only about 15% of young steelhead survive their first trek through the waters of Puget Sound. The total number of Puget Sound steelhead at less than one tenth of the historic population and threatened under the Endangered Species Act. With these critically low numbers, the high mortality rate during the juvenile migration period is a key concern. “Unless we can better understand the reasons for steelhead’s decline in Puget Sound and mitigate the threats they face, there is serious concern that steelhead may slip into extinction,” said Jacques White, LLTK’s Executive Director.

Survive the Sound provides scientists with important new data about the steelhead lifecycle, gives the public an opportunity to engage with wild steelhead in a fun and interactive way, and raises essential funds for Long Live the Kings’ salmon and steelhead recovery projects.

To learn more, visit www.survivethesound.org.

About Long Live the Kings: Long Live the Kings is a non-profit salmon recovery organization based in Seattle. Since 1986, LLTK has been working to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest.