Steelhead begin migration to the Pacific Ocean
Want to play a cute little game where almost everybody dies at the end?
Well, then, the fish version of fantasy football is for you.
Long Live the Kings, a salmon and steelhead restoration group, will stage a competition in May that allows people to bet on 48 tagged steelhead migrating from the Nisqually and Skokomish rivers to the Pacific Ocean.
There are two ways to win Survive the Sound, said Lucas Hall, the organization's project coordinator. Whose fish reaches the ocean fastest. And who picks the most surviving fish.
The fish have catchy names like Salmon Ella, Seven-Fishy-Seven, Fishy McFishface and Eddy Gar, but don't get too attached.
"Last year my fish died in the Strait (of Juan de Fuca)," Hall said. In fact, only six of the 48 fish survived last year.
Depressing as that might be, its the point of the contest. The Puget Sound steelhead population is at less than 10 percent of its historic average, Hall said.
"It's a problem and we want to bring it to people's attention," Hall said.
Pollution, disease and predators all take their toll on the fish, but Hall says much more research needs to be done.
Participating in the fantasy fish league cost $5 to join an existing team or $25 to form a new team. Teams can raise money and add a new fish for every $25 earned. Long Live the Kings, founded in 1986, states on its website that it uses the money raised from Survive the Sound to pay for campaign development and classroom programs.
The contest does not take place live. The 48 fish are representative samples based on 500 tagged fish during last year's migration. However, the contest starts May 7 and lasts 12 days, about the amount of time it takes fish to make the migration.
The daily updates give teams an idea of the struggles the fish face. Last year, the Hood Canal seemed to be particularly challenging as one (Lulu) died at the bridge and another (Seahawks inspired Boom) spent days trapped in the Canal. Boom died off the coast of Indian Island.
Last year's winner: Mackerel, a steelhead whose avatar wears shades, gold chains and has blonde fins in honor of Seattle rapper Macklemore.
Find more details at survivethesound.org.