Last Dance: Spawning Chum Salmon, Vedder River

by Petr Herman Adventures

“This video stars a pair of Chum salmon going about their courtship dance. They use their tails to clear silt from the nest they have dug for their eggs, called a Redd. They are not actually spawning in the video, but they are making all the preparations, getting to know each other and chasing off other fish. The male has the green tags that are used by the hatchery for fish tracking. Chum like large gravel and sites where some ground water seeps through the gravel to keep their eggs oxygenated.”

Squamish River Estuary Skwelwil’em/Howe Sound

by Bob Turner January 27, 2021

The Squamish River estuary was once large and thriving with life, this video shows that changes that have taken place over the past decades without thought in the long lasting impacts to the natural world. Thank YOU Bob Turner for your remarkable work to bring this to our attention and to see the life that is worth standing up for. #WaterIsLife

The Squamish River Estuary

“For nearly 30 years, the central estuary at the mouth of the Squamish River sat cut off from its fresh water source buried under thousands of yards of river dredge material.

With funding and agreements in place, the Squamish River Watershed Society commenced work with BC Rail, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and countless community volunteers to restore the Squamish River Estuary.” – Squamish River Watershed Society

​​Read more here on plans by the Squamish River Watershed Society to rehabilitate this area. See page here . . . . . . . .

Salmon returning to North Van creek in ‘shocking’ numbers (VIDEO)

Coho and chum salmon returns up 300 per cent almost immediately.

January 18, 2021   by North Shore News

Mosquito Creek Salmon webNorth Shore Streamkeepers president Keegan Casidy wades into Mosquito Creek where salmon are returning in record numbers thanks to a habitat restoration project led by local volunteers.Paul McGrath, North Shore News

After all but disappearing from Mosquito Creek, salmon populations are returning in record numbers thanks to a habitat improvement project led by the North Shore Streamkeepers.

Keegan Casidy, the group’s president, grew up fishing in North Vancouver. Life took him to the Cariboo for a time but when he returned to the North Shore in 2016, he saw his beloved creek almost devoid of fish.

The last time a pink salmon had been spotted there was the following year.

“I used to run down with a fishing rod, prior to cellphones and things like that, and have some fond memories of very large fish in the creek,” he said. “I very quickly found out that the salmon population had declined to a point of almost extirpation.”

As the North Shore developed, the nature of the stream changed with more storm water washing away the woody debris and boulders where salmonids seek shelter, and compressing the gravel where they lay their eggs.

Casidy joined the North Shore Streamkeepers and started picking the brain of a local restoration biologist with experience in creek rehabilitation projects. The Squamish Nation was already ahead of him, having commissioned a study assessing the creek from First Street to the estuary. The Nation provided the report and backed the project. Casidy then raised the $250,000 required to transform the creek’s bank where it runs through the Squamish Nation’s community of Eslhá7an.

Some of the biggest funders chipped in between $10,000 and $25,000 including the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Seaspan, Neptune Terminals, CN Rail, Patagonia and the City of North Vancouver. It took more than three years and thousands of volunteer hours to get the project shovel ready.

Casidy said he was brought to tears when Squamish Nation representatives conducted a blessing, with drummers and singers who came to let the creek know work was going to begin. It took 11 days in September for heavy equipment operators to carefully place new boulders and 60 mature conifers with their root balls still attached.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Streamkeepers began transplanting eggs from a hatchery to the creek in 2019. When the mature survivors return to spawn later this year, they will find the creek looking much better than they left it. But Casidy said he was astounded to see new fish moving in almost immediately.

“We already had coho salmon utilizing the structures that we had built,” he said. “That was pretty much the earliest we’ve ever seen them and they were in very good shape.”

Going back to 1995, the Streamkeepers had never counted more than six chum and eight coho salmon on Mosquito Creek. When Casidy did a detailed count on Remembrance Day, he found 21 chum and at 25 coho.

“So in both cases, you’ve got an over-300 per cent increase in population,” he said. “We were absolutely shocked to see how many coho and chum had returned.”

They’ve also since spotted the first steelhead trout on the creek in 21 years.

Casidy said it’s most likely the newcomers had strayed from their home creeks and rivers after they could detect the new trees and boulders on Mosquito Creek.

“They go, ‘Whoa, that smells really good. Let’s go check it out.’ And ultimately they decide, yes, this is suitable spawning habitat,” he said.

DFO is now planning to put in 20,000 pink and 20,000 chum eggs on alternating years and Casidy brims with optimism future returns will be in the hundreds of fish per year, over and above the wild salmon population.

“Looking forward, we can only expect larger returns,” he said.

Other sponsors and partners on the project included Concert Properties, British Pacific Properties, Cove Continuity Advisors, Vancity, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, BCIT, RDM Enterprises, Sqomish Forestry and Headwater Management.

Video here. . . . . . . .

Raincoast Study: Chinook salmon exhibit long-term rearing and early marine growth in the Fraser River, B.C., a large urban estuary

A new study has used salmon ear bones (otoliths) and genetic fingerprinting to confirm the importance of the Fraser estuary for juvenile Chinook salmon.

Published on 2021 · 01 · 20 by Raincoast Conservation

A tiny juvenile Chinook salmon in a viewfinder in the Lower Fraser River.

Photo by Michael O. Snyder.

A new paper published by a team of researchers, including Raincoast scientists, and led by Lia Chalifour, finds additional evidence of the importance of the Fraser estuary as critical habitat for Chinook salmon. 

The paper, “Chinook salmon exhibit long-term rearing and early marine growth in the Fraser River, B.C., a large urban estuary“, was published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences(open access).

Using tiny salmon ear bones, or otoliths, the researchers were able to demonstrate that Chinook salmon from Harrison River rely on the Fraser estuary for one to two months while they feed and grow. These findings underscore the critical nature of this habitat for the persistence and recovery of Chinook salmon.

Harrison River Chinook used to be the most productive Chinook salmon population in the Fraser, but has been declining for generations and is now considered threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 

Knowing now that Chinook salmon rely on estuarine habitat as juveniles, we must work to protect and restore this estuary.

“The Fraser estuary is an expansive, silty ecosystem, which makes it difficult to study fish movements. Using modern techniques, we were able to confirm that this threatened population of Chinook salmon rely heavily on the estuary during their emigration to the ocean, which is a critical period that influences their future survival.”

Lia Chalifour, lead author

Read the full paper

“This study shows that young Harrison River Chinook rely heavily on the estuary, and in particular the fresh and brackish marsh on the Fraser delta, before they enter the ocean. Since the vast majority of these habitats have already been lost or degraded, this stage may be a bottleneck that reduces their productivity.”

Dave Scott, co-author

Citation

Chalifour, L., D. C. Scott, M. MacDuffee, S. Stark, J. F. Dower, T. D. Beacham, T. G. Martin, and J. K. Baum. 2020. Chinook salmon exhibit long-term rearing and early marine growth in the Fraser River, B.C., a large urban estuary. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2020-0247

Abstract

Estuaries represent a transition zone for salmon migrating from freshwater to marine waters, yet their contribution to juvenile growth is poorly quantified. Here, we use genetic stock identification and otolith analyses to quantify estuarine habitat use by Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) – the Pacific salmon species considered most reliant on this habitat – in Canada’s most productive salmon river, the Fraser. Two years of sampling revealed subyearling migrant (“ocean-type”) Chinook from the Harrison River to be the estuary’s dominant salmon population throughout the emigration period. These Chinook salmon were caught predominantly in the estuary’s brackish marshes but shifted to more saline habitats as they grew. Otolith analyses indicated that these Chinook salmon have wide-ranging entry timing (from February to May), and longer estuarine residency (weeks to months, mean 41.8 days) than estimated by prior studies, but similar daily growth rates (mean 0.57 mm +/- 0.13 SD) across entry dates and residency periods, implying sufficient foraging opportunities throughout the emigration period and habitats. Together, these results suggest that estuarine habitat is more important for early marine growth of subyearling migrant Chinook salmon than previously recognized.

Select figures

Figure 1

Figure one is a map of the Lower Fraser Harrison testing sites and estuaries.
Fig. 1. Sampling locations within the marsh (M1-M5), sand flats (SF1-SF6), and eelgrass beds (E1-E6) of the Fraser River estuary, British Columbia, Canada. All sites were sampled each year, with the exception of E6, which was replaced by eelgrass site 7 (E7) in 2017. Gold lines in top inset show the maximum upstream extent of saltwater intrusion during freshet (highest river flows). The dark orange line shows the maximum upstream extent of saltwater intrusion during base river flows (i.e. earliest point of estuarine entry) at ~30 km from the delta front. The red line marks the furthest upstream point of observable tides ~90 km from the delta front. Map data from the B.C. Data Catalogue’s (https://catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset) Freshwater Atlas (freshwater) and Canadian Hydrographic Service (coastline), Natural Earth (British Columbia polygon), and Norman Maher (Salish Sea boundary). Habitat polygons adapted from the Habitat Inventory of the Lower Fraser River Estuary, 2002/3 (Fraser River Estuary Management Program). Saltwater intrusion points and tidal extent based on Dashtgard et al. (2012).

Figure 2

Figure two images of the tiny ear bones and markers.
Fig. 2. Diagram of otolith measurements taken. Each measurement was taken three times and the mean result was used for subsequent analyses. A: Otolith width, B: Otolith width at estuarine entry, C: Otolith radius at estuarine entry, D: Total estuarine growth, E: Mean daily estuarine growth (measurement divided by count of daily increments), F: Early estuarine daily growth, G: Late estuarine daily growth, H: Freshwater daily growth. *: Estuarine entry inflection as identified by LA-ICPMS, DP: Dorso-posterior quadrant of the sagittal otolith.

Figure 4

Figure 4 from Lia Chalifour's paper showing estuary frequencies and locations of Chinook salmon.
Fig. 4. Juvenile Harrison Chinook salmon estuarine entry timing and residency prior to capture, based on otolith-derived estimates. Panel A shows the range of entry timing and Panel B shows minimum residency. Panels C and D show the relationship between residency and entry timing. Entry day explained 54.7 % of the variation in residency period (P = 6.1×10-16 401 ; C). Julian day 100 corresponds to April 9, 2016 (leap year).

Affiliations

  1. Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC Canada
  2. Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Sidney, BC Canada
  3. Tsawwassen Shuttles Incorporated, Tsawwassen, BC Canada
  4. School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC Canada
  5. Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, BC Canada
  6. The Conservation Decisions Lab, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of BC, Vancouver, BC Canada

See Full Article here…………