All posts by Paul Cipywnyk

Ferns, Fungi, Flow — A Byrne Creek Walk

I scoured Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC,  for spawning salmon this morning but saw none, dead or alive. There could possibly be a few hiding in the shadows of the sediment pond — the sun is so low on the horizon that even on a sunny day it can be hard to see into the pond.

It appears that this year’s salmon run may be drawing to a close on Byrne Creek. Volunteer streamkeepers occasionally see them through the end of November, and rarely into early December. It’s been a decent year for this creek, with a combined total of chum and coho approaching 40 fish.

On the way back up the ravine I took advantage of the post-rain sunshine to get some nature shots along the trail.

Byrne Creek dew

forest in a drop of water
A forest in a drop of water

Byrne Creek fungus

Byrne Creek fungus

Byrne Creek fungus

Byrne Creek ferns

Byrne Creek ferns

Byrne Creek ferns

Byrne Creek ferns

Byrne Creek ferns

Byrne Creek flow

Byrne Creek flow

Best Spawner Year on Byrne Ck in Burnaby Since 2011

I just completed a quick tally of email spawner patrol reports (I may be out a fish or two) and it looks like we’re on track for the best spawner year on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, since 2011. So far I think we have processed 28 chum and 4 coho.

It’s a bit hard to compare, because in some recent years we’ve seen many more fish than we’ve eventually found carcasses, even though we’re consistent in areas covered and frequency of patrols. (Extended periods of heavy rain can flush and/or bury carcasses.)

But in terms of comparing carcasses processed (to confirm species, size, sex, and spawning status), we’re looking good.

It also looks good in that most of the female chum found have spawned. Of the two female coho processed so far, one had spawned.

Thanks to all the volunteers going out patrolling, and let’s hope we still get some more fish!

For those curious to know, our best spawner year since fish passage was restored on Byrne Creek at the Fraser outfall about 30 years ago was just over 90 combined chum and coho in 2004.

BTW, volunteer streamkeepers process every salmon carcass found on the creek. We are able to do this because the spawning area can be traversed on foot in an hour to two hours depending on conditions and numbers of fish seen, and because the returns are so low. We do three to five patrols a week from mid-October to late December.

Folks Brave Wind & Rain to View Salmon on Byrne Ck

Six hardy souls braved the wind and rain on the Burnaby Parks-sponsored Byrne Creek salmon tour today. The water was high and dirty, and as leader of the tour, I had little hope of seeing salmon. But we persevered and were rewarded by a couple of chum cruising near the surface of the sediment pond! Thank you chum!

It was uplifting to witness the excitement of people seeing salmon in their own neighbourhood for the first time.

Thanks to Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers Ray and Yumi for joining me, and thanks to the three folks who showed up for the tour despite the challenging weather. All expressed interest in potentially participating in other Byrne Creek events!

chum rain byrne creek
A ghostly chum in the rain, swimming up the culvert under Southridge Drive in SE Burnaby, BC

Spawner Patrol on Byrne Ck in SE Burnaby Turns Up Lots of Chum

Byrne Creek Salmon

Had a good spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, today. Volunteer streamkeepers have been tallying spawner returns here for some 15 years or more. Our best year was over 90 combined chum and coho, and this year we’re off to a pretty good start. Seven chum and one coho in this shot.

NOTE: Streamkeepers have training and permission from DFO to walk the creek, look for live salmon returning to spawn, and to collect data on carcasses. Please enjoy the sight of spawning salmon respectfully and do not enter the creek.

Excellent SEHAB Meeting in Langley, BC

Whew, home after a 2-1/2-day SEHAB (Salmonid Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board) meeting in Langley, BC.

Thanks to all the BC stewardship groups that contributed to this meeting through their volunteer SEHAB regional reps and DFO Community Advisors. And thanks to DFO staff who came to the meeting to share their insights and give suggestions on how the board can be most successful in moving issues forward.

We have put together what we feel is an excellent document of proactive, constructive advice to share with management at DFO Pacific Regional HQ in Vancouver tomorrow.

SEHAB meets three times a year in locations across British Columbia to listen to local stewardship and Salmonid Enhancement Program groups, and share their successes and concerns with senior DFO management.

I have had the privilege of serving on this volunteer board for many years, including several on the executive as secretary and chair of the Communication Committee, and am always impressed by the wealth of knowledge and experience that folks bring to the table.

Fruitful Spawner Patrol on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

Volunteer streamkeepers had a good spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in Burnaby, BC, today.

We saw 19 live chum, and processed 7 dead ones — one male and six spawned females. Yay!

Also saw two fish that were likely coho, one large, one perhaps a jack, both very shy and hiding under snags.

The photo shows three fish found in close proximity to each other. One male and two spawned females. Had to guesstimate a length for the bottom one, as some critter had been having a feast.

byrne creek chum salmon

chum swimming up Byrne Creek
As we were observing a pair spawning, another chum swam right past me!

pair of chum on redd
A pair of chum on a redd (nest). Shot from Meadow Ave. bridge.

NOTE: Streamkeepers have permission from Fisheries and Oceans to count spawning salmon, and to process carcasses to collect data on size, species, sex, etc. Please observe spawning salmon from a reasonable distance and do not harass them.

chum in motion
Chum in motion.

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.