30 October 2011

Salmon run on the Canadian West Coast

It's the fall season here on the Canadian West Coast; time to look forward to the salmon run in the local Goldstream River. The forest here is predominantly coniferous, Douglas Fir, Hemlock, and Western Red Cedar, but there are a few stands of Maple trees among the overall carpet of green. The leaves of the Maples are falling, adding colour to the banks of the river.
This may evoke visions of peace, calm, and beauty but there are other additions to the river never seen before... These are the small white oil and solvent booms stretched across the surface of the water; the result of a fuel tanker accident on the road immediately alongside the river some months ago. The initial spill was a disaster, pouring thousands of litres of fuel into the water, but hope is alive the salmon run will not be affected.
The main spawning run will peak in a few weeks but the initial arrivals are few and far between. When I visited the river a week ago I saw only a few salmon making their way upstream. Speaking to a conservation officer confirmed the fact; only fifty fish had been counted so far, and this follows a very disappointing fish count from 2010 when only twenty-five percent of the expected spawning run actually arrived at the river.
Meanwhile, we shall remain hopeful. The bald eagles and the seagulls are gathering in the estuary waiting for the decaying carcases of the salmon to be washed downstream after spawning. Many of the dead fish become washed up on the gravel bars and are pecked clean to the skeleton by crows and other scavengers. A big salmon run is good for the whole wildlife community..... More details in a month's time.

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