Citizen Science vs Social Media Speculation

I am a strong proponent of citizen science. I think the observations amateurs make, share, and get verified on places like iNaturalist are crucial to understanding what is going on in the natural world.

But sometimes things get crazy on social media.

The other day I posted a photo of a heron scarfing a large salmonid about 30-35cm long.

By a quick ‘n dirty count of responses, several Registered Professional Biologists, several hatchery managers and staff, and a few folks from the Department of Fisheries agree it was a coho.

Yet the debate on my original post continues to grow days later with “no, that’s a Chinook” or “no, that’s a Steelhead” or “No. . . whatever. . . ” comments piling up.

I have not responded to those posts in that thread, and I won’t, because that would likely just pour fuel on the speculative fire.

Without actually getting hands on with the fish to look at teeth and gums and scales and spots and whatever, there is no point to arguing.

But I’ll go with the pros, eh?

And, oh yeah, that citizen science. In over 20 years of streamkeeping on the creek we have never seen chinook or steelhead. Only chum and coho use this creek to spawn. Just once in those years have we trapped a chinook smolt, and that  was near the  mouth, where it was likely taking a break while heading out to the ocean from somewhere up the Fraser.