Bridging art with science to protect salmon habitat

Spring 2014

Young salmon need vegetated, shallow water where they can stay cool, eat bugs, and grow larger while hiding from predators. Nearshore habitats with woody plant debris and rocks are crucial as salmon transition from freshwater to life in the ocean. Unfortunately, this is not the ideal picture of a modern home or waterfront business. These places favor order and cleanliness: a nice lawn with a clearly defined border, perhaps a stout bulkhead or a slope of gravel to prevent erosion.

Balancing waterfront development with the needs of salmon is a continuous challenge that requires innovative thinking. To step outside the box, NOAA and the Pacific Northwest College of Arts formed a unique partnership. Art students challenged NOAA to develop new ways of communicating this complex environmental and societal issue; and NOAA provided students with the opportunity to apply their talents in a professional setting. Working together, NOAA and the students bridged art with science to create a call to action. The students produced an animated short story to communicate the importance of shorelines, looking at traditional methods for protecting them so they can be modified to support healthy salmon habitat.

Illustrations above: Young salmon explore an ideal world in the early scenes -shaded water with rocks, woody debris and vegetation. Illustrations by Beryl Allee, animation and sound design by John Summerson.

NOAA is proud to present this beautiful animation by the Pacific Northwest College of Arts very own Beryl Allee and John Summerson. Colorado native Allee wrote the story and created the illustrations, while Summerson is the student behind the animation and sound design. 

Watch the shallow water habitat animation now.

Go behind the scenes and see how the Shallow Water Habitat video was created.

Learn more about the importance of nearshore habitat to salmon recovery:

http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/habitat/fact_sheets/nearshore_habitat.pdf

Learn more about West Coast salmon recovery efforts:

http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/salmon_steelhead/recovery_planning_and_implementation/index.html