Half a dozen volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society patrolled the creek in SE #Burnaby for spawning salmon today. It’s been a slow start to the spawning season, but we saw a couple of live ones today, and processed a couple of dead ones for size, sex, and spawning status.
NOTE: It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Streamkeepers have training and permission from DFO to collect data.
If you notice a salmon carcass in the creek that’s been cut in half, don’t worry, that’s us — we cut the processed morts in half so we know they’ve been assessed, and return them to the creek where they provide essential nutrients to the food chain.
Pointing out a redd (nest of eggs) near the confluence with John Mathews Creek
They can be hard to spot even on a bright, clear, day
Another lovely redd (nest of eggs) near Meadow Ave.
Sad to find a female coho unspawned. This happens too often on Byrne Creek.
Large male chum
Resetting a dog poster. We have permission from City of Burnaby Parks to put up posters advising the public to keep dogs out of the creek during spawning season from mid-October through the end of the year. Most dog walkers are cooperative and understanding, and since they’re on the trail nearly every day, they’re some of our best “eyes on the creek.”
Yumi and I headed out to Maple Ridge for the Return of the Salmon at the fish fence at Kanaka Creek Regional Park. It was a lovely day for the fun event.
Glorious male chum in full spawning regalia
Thanks to all the KEEPS volunteers!
Ross Davies regales folks with nature tales, and explains the salmon life cycle
Yumi with a bunch of kids, checking out aquatic bugs
Metro Vancouver Parks display
The fish dissection was educational albeit a tad gruesome : – )
That wee ball is the lens from a chum salmon’s eye
A bear nonchalantly ambled by, ignoring the hundreds of people
Watershed Watch Salmon Society booth.
Defend the Heart of the Fraser!
We spent a few days up at the Salute to the Sockeye festival the last few days at the former Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park.
The park was recently officially, and rightfully, renamed Tsútswecw Provincial Park. (I’ve read news reports that family of the late Haig-Brown — one of Canada’s most famous environmentalists and nature writers — supports the renaming).
This year is a dominant run, and though it’s been slow shaping up, it was still awesome. I think this is the third or fourth dominant run that we’ve taken in — they happen every four years, with slower runs in between.
A lovely stop coming home from Squamish on the Sea to Sky highway on BC’s beautiful coast.
The Fraser River Discovery Centre in New Westminster, BC, had several tours today sharing First Nations fishing and fish-preserving techniques.
It was interesting learning about the cleaning, filleting, and wind-drying process to preserve salmon, and we got to try our hands out sharpening Indigenous tools.
An exercise sorting cleaning, filleting and wind drying into proper order.
Checking out the BC watersheds map, with a focus on the mighty Fraser River
The protected White Sturgeon
Yep, these massive, ancient (both in terms of time on Earth, and lifespan) fish come from such tiny eggs. Amazing!
I was happy to see these reminders for boaters to clean their watercraft to help contain the spread of invasive species. These were on the Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon, just steps from the hotel where I attended the Editors Canada national conference.
The Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver was giving a presentation to the Anmore Garden Club, and I thought I’d head out early and spend some time at Belcarra Regional Park.
Cute Canada Goose family:
Sockeye sandwich with mixed vegetables
One day after schoolchildren released coho smolts into Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, fish were found dying. Studies show that coho are particularly sensitive to road wash that contains a toxic combination of pollutants including gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and metals.
They actually try to swim with their heads above the water as they try to escape the pollutants
It would likely help if the City of Burnaby council would actually implement the Byrne Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan and the Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
The watershed needs rain gardens, swales, and biofiltration ponds. The more road wash that is intercepted and naturally filtered in the ground the better.
UPDATE: I sent this to Dr. Jenifer McIntyre, a professor at Washington State University, who has been researching the impacts of road runoff on salmon. She shared a link to her latest published study comparing road runoff effects on coho vs chum.
Run Silent, Run Deep
A large coho still hanging out in the sediment pond in the artificial habitat at Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby.
We think it’s a “she” because there’s a coho jack (early male returnee but sexually capable) that’s been hanging with her for a couple of days now.
Anyone got some underwater mood music?
Volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society are seeing more coho prespawn mortality this season. That’s when coho that return to spawn die before they can do so.
This has been a recurring problem on the creek over the years, and is likely due to polluted road wash that carries contaminants into the water. There are ongoing studies in Washington State that point to a toxic brew of contaminants in stormwater as being lethal to coho, which seem particularly susceptible to it.
We found this coho male today
And this coho female full of eggs a couple of days ago
We get so few coho back to Byrne Creek that we treasure every one, and it’s so sad to see them die without completing their life cycle.
We desperately need to infiltrate water washed off from roads and parking lots into the ground through swales and rain gardens. The ground acts as a natural filter. Yet the Byrne Creek watershed in Burnaby, BC, is seeing more and more ground paved over despite hundreds of hours of professional and public input into Stormwater Management Plans and a recent Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
Note that it is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Streamkeepers have training and permission to process dead salmon to collect data on species, size, spawning status, etc. We return the carcasses to the creek after processing as they provide food and nutrients to other fish, animals and the overall ecosystem.
UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2017): More research coming from the US northwest.