Merry Fishmas from the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

The Estuary Partnership enjoys a good holiday, even if it is a made-up holiday. This year, staff and board members celebrated the 12 days Fishmas, a 12-day celebration very loosely based on the popular holiday carol, the 12 Days of Christmas. The Estuary Partnership's Fishmas celebration focused on the sights, sounds, science, and of course, the fish, of the lower Columbia River. Each day a new Fishmas theme was celebrated on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook


On the 12th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a visit to see a lamprey! True, we love zoo lights (almost all of the Estuary Partnership staff have visited this month!) but we love lamprey more! The lamprey exhibit is a must-see at the Oregon Zoo. The exhibit was planned and designed in partnership with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many PNW tribes.


photo credit: USFW Pacific 

On the 11th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a coho salmon carcass! Don’t be fooled, a dead salmon is not a lump of coal! This coho carcass was spotted in the newly restored Gibbons Creek at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month. Seeing this coho carcass means that the restoration actions underway at Steigerwald are working! After spawning, salmon die and their decaying bodies release valuable nutrients that benefit the ecosystem.

spawned out coho salmon


On the 10th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a day to spread cheer and volunteer! Volunteer to plant native trees and scrubs with friends and family at important restoration project sites throughout the lower Columbia River. The volunteer schedule for January and February available now.

volunteers planting


On the 9th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me... a neat mnemonic to learn the salmon species!

  • Thumb rhymes with chum
  • Poke your eye (pointer finger) = sockeye salmon
  • Tallest (middle) finger = king or Chinook salmon
  • Ring finger = silver or coho salmon 
  • Pinky finger = pink salmon 


On the 8th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Wild Washington lesson plans for K-12 classrooms. We’re partial to the estuary lesson plan but there are many to choose from!

estuary lesson


On the 7th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a visit to Oregon icon Herman the Sturgeon at the Sturgeon Center at Bonneville fish hatchery. Herman the Sturgeon is approximately 10' long, 500 pounds, and over 80 years old!

herman the sturgeon

photo credit: Sheila Sund 

On the 6th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a 6-pack of Salmon-Safe beer! Look for the Salmon Safe label on your next trip down the beverage aisle to support farming practices and developments that protect water quality, maintain watershed health, and restore habitat.



On the 5th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a storymap of the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Learn about efforts to reduce toxic pollution and protect people and the environment.



On the 4th day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a fish salvage video from the Steigerwald Reconnection Project! This video shows restoration staff gathering multiple species of lamprey and salmon, and more from GIbbons Creek at Steigerwald. The fish were safely moved 1 mile upstream to allow for construction activity the section of Gibbons Creek that runs through Steigerwald that reconnected the creek to its natural alluvial fan.

Fish salvage was performed over 12 days during the 2021 construction season, requiring more than 1,300 hours of work performed staff and volunteers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, and the contractor, LKE, Inc. The fish salvage process involved teams of people operating electro-shockers, individuals swinging dip-nets, a person collecting, sorting and tallying the species, and finally, a team dedicated to releasing fish one mile upstream.  It was a massive effort that resulted in successful capture and relocation of fish life in Gibbons Creek!


On the 3rd day of Fishmas my true love gave to me... a gift to the Estuary! Give the gift of a healthy, habitable lower Columbia estuary to those you love.

donate header

On the 2nd day of Fishmas my true love gave to me...a tour of estuary on a water trail! Check out the lower Columbia River and Lewis River to Vancouver Lake water trails on our website today.  Plan your own adventure or try one of our recommended trips. With 100s of miles of water trail, there is something for every level of paddler. 



On the 1st day of Fishmas my true love gave to facts about the estuary! How many miles long is the lower Columbia River? How many tributaries flow into it? Answers to these questions and more on the River Facts page our website. 

did you know?


Merry Fishmas from all of us at the Estuary Partnership!