Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Salmon Run

© By Othmar Vohringer

This year British Columbia had the biggest sockeye salmon return in over 80 years. It is estimated that over 30 million sockeye returned into the Fraser River and migrated to the streams where they were born. My wife suggested we see the salmon migration, which she had seen many years before on the Fraser. This year was obviously the best time to make the trip out to the Adams River and observe the spectacle. On arrival at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park we realized that thousands of others had got the same idea. The place was crowded with people viewing the endless red band of fish swimming upriver. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life and I am still in awe. Observing these fish and how they struggle upstream against a strong current and then fighting their way to the smaller side rivers and creeks, almost literally climbing over boulders just to get back to the precise spot in the river where they where born is an awe inspiring sight that is hard to put into words.

Here are a few images from that eventful day.

Pictured are biologists and volunteers who have been hard at work for days counting, examining and tagging sockeye salmon. The dark red band in the water are thousands of sockeye salmon swimming upstream to their place of birth.

Wave after wave of sockeye salmon makes their way upriver and from there into the smaller rivers and creeks. By the time these fish arrive at the Adams River they have changed their appearance drastically.

From the large Adams River the sockeye swim into the smaller and shallow rivers and creeks, still fighting and pushing against each other with their last strength to do their business at the exact spot where they where born many years ago.

Two salmon waiting patiently at the mouth of a creek until a spot in the breeding area becomes available. To the side of them dead salmon float downstream. All along the rivers and creeks the shore is littered with thousands of salmon that paid the ultimate price to guarantee the continuation of their species. The stench of dead fish can be smelled from far away. On arrival a man advised us "Just follow the smell and you will find the fish." He was not kidding. Vendors sold breathing masks and did brisk business.

When the sockeye arrive on the spot they were born they waste no time and begin to form a shallow nest by clearing the gravel with their tails. The female hurriedly lays her eggs while the male guards her and the nest. Shortly after this they die.

At the end of the journey: A male (top) and female (bottom) for comparison. Looking at these two fish I couldn't help wondering if such a radical mutation is painful for the fish. I learned from a biologist that the fish not only change their general appearance but also the skeleton, teeth, skin and organs and that this process happens in a few short days- not weeks, months or even years.

All along the river are information displays, such as this biologist giving informative seminars about sockeye salmon. I am not that knowledgeable about salmon in particular so for me this was a very interesting weekend during which I learned a lot about salmon and their habitat and why it is important that we protect these things. As often is the case, if you protect one species and its habitat many others including humans will benefit from it too.

For more information about salmon and salmon conservation visit the website of the Adams River Salmon Society

To see more pictures head over the blog my wife writes. Great pictures and story.


This blog post has been brought to you by Othmar Vohringer Outdoors

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Anonymous said...

I would certainly love to see them swimming back someday.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Sorry for the delay in my answer, been busy the past two weeks chasing deer, moose and waterfowl.

Seeing that event got me hooked on salmon fishing. I never fished salmon only trout and bass.


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