Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Finncoho

Last weekend, as the rain began to abate, we headed down to the fish hatchery to release the coho into Terminal Creek. This is an annual ritual for us now, and this year we joined the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Society with the intention of participating the Streamkeepers program. Steamkeepers is a program designed to get more volunteers working on habitat monitoring and restoration. The program is pretty comprehensive and also consists of training on many aspects of stream care and fisheries monitoring.

Since I have lived on the west coast (coming on 12 years now) I have had an affinity for salmon. I am in awe of these fish, not only for their epic journeys but also for the way in which they bring nutrients from the ocean deep into the interior of British Columbia. It is true to say that without the salmon, BC would be a very different physical place than it is now. Joining the Streamkeepers and helping get that program up and running on Bowen again is one way for me to actually work with these fish, to become connected in a deeper way to the land and streams around me and to help preserve one of the great food sources in our ocean, a source which I feel we will need to rely on more and more on the local level over the next several decades and a source which will be increasingly under threat from everything from global warming to local development.

Over the weekend some Streamkeepers from Squamish came down to visit our operations at the hatchery and we were all speculating on why there were so few coho coming back this year. One theory was that the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin has changed its feeding habits and range since the ocean has warmed a little and is now intercepting coho around Haida Gwaii which is far north of its traditional range. That is simply one consequence of global warming.

And so these little fish that Finn is releasing into Terminal Creek will perhaps become dolphin food, or maybe they will end up on your plate, or perhaps they will survive all the odds, get a taste of their home stream from way out in the ocean and find their way back home, to climb the ladder up Bridal Veil Falls and spawn and die on the spot where it was hatched and released.

Who wouldn't want to have a close relationship with these animals?