26 November 2011

The Salmon have come..... and gone

Four weeks ago, the fish were just starting the annual spawning run into the Goldstream River, near Victoria, in British Columbia. There had been concerns about a fuel spill into the river during the summer; some small absorbing booms were stretched across the surface for several months. The 2010 run was also much smaller than expected, so what could one anticipate for this year.

During the last month, several thousand fish have made their way upstream. They have joined into mating pairs, dug out their small trench in the gravel, and have laid their eggs and fertilized with milt... but then comes the ultimate price! The skin of the fish begins to discolour, the flesh becomes inedible, to humans that is, and the fish slowly die.

Some are washed downstream to be eaten by the waiting bald eagles, but many wash up on the river bank to be eaten by seagulls. At night and early morning, mink and bear arrive at the river to feed but the human presence during daylight hours tend to keep these animals hidden in the underbrush
This small river is just one of many on the coast and fortunately it is in a dedicated wilderness park. Its proximity to a city attracts thousands of visitors during the fall season but with park rangers working on river bank protection and other environmental issues, the wilderness nature of the river has been successfully maintained.

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