Calling All Salmon Savers: It’s Spawning Season!

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Okay Earth Rangers, we’ve got a really important question for you. Put on your thinking caps because this one’s a tough one! Ready?

What words come to mind when you think about salmon?

…alright, maybe that wasn’t a tough one after all, but what did you come up with? Some of you probably went to “big”, all of you hopefully thought “awesome”, and maybe some even came up with “red”… but did anyone think of “migratory”?! That’s right, some salmon (like the sockeye we’re protecting with this year’s Bring Back the Wild project) travel from the riverbeds they grew up in to the ocean, where they’ll spend much of their adult lives. Then, when it’s time to lay their eggs, they’ll make the same journey back to the river they came from, sometimes travelling hundreds of kilometres to get back home! It’s hard to say exactly how the salmon know where to go or how to get there, with some theories suggesting they can follow the Earth’s magnetic field (sort of like a compass) and others pointing to their sense of smell as their guide. We may not know how it happens but I think we can all agree it’s pretty cool, right?!

Tons of Sockeye Salmon return home to the same river they were born in to lay their eggs.

Because salmon will only lay their eggs in the river they were born in, it’s really important that we make sure they can get back to this river when it’s time for them to spawn. Things like waterfalls, beaver dams, and eager predators can get in the way and make the journey pretty tricky, and building things like bridges and hydro dams can make the problem even worse. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to the salmon population that used to make their homes in British Columbia’s Coquitlam River. The construction of a dam in the 1900s made it really hard for the salmon to pass through and get back to the river, which meant they couldn’t spawn. Without new generations of salmon being born the population plummeted, and now less than 100 salmon attempt to pass the dam each year.

A spawning Sockeye Salmon attempts to jump over a waterfall on its journey home!

That’s where you come in, Earth Rangers! We’re working on a project that’s trying to restore the Coquitlam River’s salmon population by collecting salmon eggs and bringing them to a nearby hatchery so they can grow and be released back into the river. In 2017 almost 5,000 hatchery-reared salmon were released below the dam so they could make their way to the ocean, and now 2 years later these same salmon are expected to start making their way home any time! Since they won’t be able to pass the dam, the returning adult salmon will be captured and brought to a hatchery. Here their eggs will be fertilized and will hopefully grow into healthy baby sockeye!

Fisheries scientists and members of the Kwikwetlem First Nation gather to celebrate the 2017 salmon release.

Waiting for these adults to return is really exciting, and we hope to have lots more good news to share with you once their journey has been completed, so stay tuned Earth Rangers! And don’t forget…

You can do your part by starting a Bring Back the Wild campaign today! Together we know we can make a difference!

Generously Supported By


Lehigh

 

In Collaboration With

Kwikwetlem First Nation
Watershed Watch

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