Species of the Year 2012




Golden Gate National Recreation Area's

Coho Salmon Species of the Year logoSpecies of the Year

2012: The year of the coho salmon!

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s (GGNRA's) far-reaching boundaries are home to more species that are listed by the federal government as threatened or endangered than any other national park site in the continental United States. Each year the GGNRA is featuring one of these special plants and animals through educational programs, events, restoration activities, and a variety of materials for park visitors of all ages.

The Species of the Year for 2012 was the endangered coho salmon. Several watersheds in the GGNRA and Point Reyes National Seashore including Olema, Redwood, and Pine Gulch Creeks support this species. These fish are part of a unique subpopulation of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) that only live in streams along the central California coast. Because coho require high quality freshwater and ocean habitats over the course of their 3-year lifespans they are excellent indicators of the health of these ecosystems.

In 1996 the federal government listed coho salmon in this region as threatened. Unfortunately, their status was further downgraded from threatened to endangered in 2005. Habitat loss from urbanization, dam construction, logging, water withdrawals, and stream channel alterations have contributed to their decline, as have over-harvest, climactic changes, and periods of poor ocean productivity.

Because coho are an endangered species, the National Park Service is responsible for monitoring and protecting these populations. The parks and their partners have undertaken a huge effort to learn more about the size, distribution, and behavior of these populations; understand their habitat requirements; and engage federal, state, and local stakeholders in their protection.

Learn more about these special and fascinating creatures through 2-page resource briefings, multimedia, and more. Also, see below for special coho Species of the Year materials.


For information about sustainable salmon seafood choices see the Monterey Bay Aquarium website

Events and Volunteer Opportunities (see calendar below for a complete listing)