Let’s Play ‘Spot the Chum’

We’re getting good numbers of spawning salmon back in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC.  At least good for this little struggling urban waterway.

Here’s a number of shots I took today on spawner patrol. Though I’ve been volunteering as a streamkeeper for some 15 years now, I still find it cool how camouflaged these fish are.

Each one of the following photos has at least one chum in it, and some have several.

chum salmon
The rising submarine chum

chum salmon
The logger chum

chum salmon
The hiding in plain view chum

chum salmon spawning
At least three in this shot

chum salmon
Blending in chum

chum salmon
OK, this dead one was easy to see. 52 cm male.

chum salmon
Hide and seek, heads hidden, tails sticking out chum


Salmon Return to Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, to Spawn

Volunteer streamkeepers are elated to see salmon coming back to spawn in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC. If it rains, the fish start returning in mid-October, but this year we didn’t see any until nearly the end of the month.

We count live salmon and note their species and location, and when they die, we process the carcasses — species, size, sex, and for females whether or not they have spawned and their eggs are gone.

Byrne Creek salmon patrol
In the foreground you can see a coho female that we processed. We cut the carcasses in half after collecting data, so that we don’t count them again. We return the carcasses to the creek for they provide nutrients to the ecosystem.

Unfortunately this coho female died before spawning. We found her full of roe. This is a recurring problem on Byrne Creek. Studies in WA state have shown that runoff from roads can carry a toxic brew that is lethal to coho, with death from such exposure happening within hours.

We get so few salmon back to Byrne Creek that every one found unspawned is a small tragedy that chips away at volunteers’ spirits.