Yet Another Poorly Designed Survey

Just took a survey sent to me by an NGO resource organization. I like to be helpful, so I often take the time to answer surveys.

The survey was mostly about HR, and as I worked my way through the questions I kept typing in that our streamkeeper society is 100% volunteer, with zero employees. Finally, the last couple of questions in the survey included “how many employees do you have?” Why the heck wasn’t that one of the first questions?

And then the last question was what category did our annual budget fall into. The lowest category was less than $500,000/year. Seeing as our annual budget is $1,000 (the amount of our annual grant from the Fisheries and Oceans SEP program), that was the category I chose, but damn! Out by 500X, eh?

Small Sockeye This Year?

I bought our first wild sockeye of the season at Save-On Foods in Burnaby, BC, today.

It was small, weighing in at 0.686 kg, or about 1.5 lbs. Of course that’s sans head and guts, but it still appeared undersized. All of the sockeye at Save-On looked small. Certainly way smaller than the pinks I fished on the Fraser last year.

Come to think of it, the fish looked not much bigger than a coho jack — a male coho salmon that returns to spawn a year early.

According to the DFO Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide, a sockeye “usually weighs between 2.2 kg and 3.1 kg, but can reach 6.3 kg.”

UPDATE: I’ve been looking into this online, Googling and reading academic papers, and have come to the conclusion that while small, this fish was likely not an outlier.

Most research and reporting on fish sizes and weights presents “average” ranges, and it’s hard to find information about what the usual minimum weights are. However I did find the following on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada government website:

“Commercially caught sockeye range in weight from 2 to 9 pounds and are graded according to size: 2-4 lbs., 4-6 lbs., and 6-9 lbs.”

So I guess that 1.5-pound dressed fish was not an outlier.

Fun Day at Powell Street Festival in Vancouver

We always enjoy the annual Powell Street Festival in what is left of Vancouver’s original Japantown. What was once a vibrant community was dismantled in 1942 with the Canadian government’s internment of Japanese Canadians — many of them Canadian citizens. The festival never dwells on that part of the past, it’s a super celebration of Japanese culture, art, music, food, martial arts, and more.

See my Flickr album here.

Powell Street Festival Vancouver 2014

Touring Byrne Creek with Vancouver Retired Teachers

A walking club from the Vancouver Retired Teachers contacted me a few months ago to ask for a tour of Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby. They walk regularly every Wednesday, all over Vancouver, Burnaby, and the north shore. I was happy to accompany them around the creek and ravine park today.

We covered the ravine loop in just over two hours, with plenty of time along the way to enjoy nature, and talk about urban streamkeeping and biodiversity. I am passionate about nature in the city, so I can blather on for hours, but they politely insisted at the end of the tour that they’d found it all very interesting : -).

And in a surprising gesture, they passed the hat at the end of the tour and came up with nearly $80 to donate to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. Wow! I was really touched, since our group is 100% volunteer and we have never charged for tours.

I enjoyed the morning outing. It’s wonderful getting out into nature, fresh air and sunshine, talking with a group of convivial folks, and getting some exercise all at the same time!

Vancouver Retired Teacher tour Byrne Creek

Shocked to See Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Milky for 2nd Day

I was shocked to see that Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, was running milky for the second day in a row. You can see my photos from yesterday below in an earlier post.

This is the third day in a week that someone has been discharging something into the creek. Volunteer streamkeepers haven’t seen any dead or distressed fish, but this amount of sediment occurring so frequently cannot be good for life in the creek.

The City of Burnaby has been swift to respond, sending out staff to try to backtrack the sources of these illegal discharges. Of course staff cannot say much while investigations are ongoing, but I hope they are successful.

While a fine or two would be great to make perpetrators sit up and take notice, I am generally not gunning for punitive measures. Education and outreach are key in the long run.

UPDATE: As of late afternoon, City staff had traced the source to a broken line on private property that was seeping and carrying silt into a drain.  As is often the case, it was unintentional, and will be fixed.

UPDATE 2: As of 6:30 pm, I received a report from another volunteer streamkeeper that a “deluge” of water was passing through Griffith’s Pond, and that she had contacted the City of Burnaby, and had been told there was a watermain break somewhere upstream. How many hits can this poor creek take in a day, much less in a week?

Here’s what Griffith’s Pond near Edmonds Skytrain Station looked like as of 7:00 pm tonight:

still milky byrne creek

Paul’s Photo Tips — Tip 3 — It’s Not the Camera, It’s the Photographer

It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.

You can take great photos with a $100 point-and-shoot or a smartphone. You can take lousy photos with a $2,000 DSLR.

OK, before someone sporting a really nice DSLR gets into a huff here, relax, Paul’s Photo Tip 4, coming up in  a few days, will be “It’s the Camera.” So the gear-obsessed need not fear, I’ll also argue the other side. There are good points for both.

But back to today’s premise that good photos can be taken with cheap gear.

Personal vision, creativity, skill, practice and more add up to great photos. I know folks who regularly post interesting photos to, say Facebook, that they take with their cell phones. And I mean truly creative shots.

To be honest, I’ve never shot a lot with any of my cell phones over the years, probably because 99% of the time I’m carrying a real camera, be it a pocket-size Elph, or a DSLR. But here are a couple of shots of Canada Place on the Vancouver waterfront taken with an Acer Liquid E (obsolete and no longer in use) back in 2011.

If you look at the history of photography, some of the pioneers took amazing, artistic photographs with very basic equipment, not much beyond a pinhole camera that a kid could make with a cardboard box.

Today we’ve gotten used to auto-everything cameras that produce decent shots most of the time without much thought on our part. But how many of those shots are great ones? Photos that you’d want to enlarge and put on the wall and live with them day after day? (Sorry, your baby or other family members don’t count : -).

The bottom line is, use whatever you have as best you can. Don’t wait until you have a “good” camera. That sort of attitude may have you sitting on the sidelines for a long time.

Think of it this way — how many blues guitar greats have you heard of who went out at the age of 12 and bought a $3,000 Gibson, practiced hard, and made it to the top? Yeah, right, none. They went to a pawn shop and for $25 they bought some beat up axe with an action so bad they could barely squeeze a chord out — and they played the hell out of it.

Go for it, with whatever you’ve got.

Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Turns Milky

Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby was running milky today. All drains on streets and parking lots lead to local creeks!

I don’t know what the substance was, but local streamkeeper volunteers first shared the info just after 1:00 pm today, and as I walked the creek from 2:30 to 3:30 it was still running milky.

City of Burnaby staff were out trying to track the source through the storm system.

This is the second such event in a week! Last week the creek was running silty brown from what appeared to be construction-site silt.

Here are some shots of today’s event:

MIlky Byrne CreekThe pond near Griffiths Dr.

MIlky Byrne CreekThe outflow from the pond into the creek

MIlky Byrne CreekClose-up of the milky flow

MIlky Byrne Creek
Further down the creek, near the playground at Ron McLean Park


Streamkeeping, sustainability, community, business, photography, books, and animals, with occasional forays into social commentary. Text and Photos © Paul Cipywnyk