“You don’t get to haul fish behind London Drugs at a shopping mall very often,” said Salmon in the City volunteer and Colquitz River advocate Dorothy Chambers while assessing coho salmon caught in the fish fence in the Colquitz River Park behind the Tillicum Shopping Centre on Tuesday.
A walking group and a kids group are crowded around the edge of the river to watch Chambers and the volunteers work. pic.twitter.com/UsCAk4Ijbq
— Devon Bidal (@devonscarlett) October 22, 2019
Volunteers from Salmon in the City –a project funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) – crowded around the fish trap – which received a new metal top earlier this year – pulling out salmon after salmon while a group of preschoolers from G. R. Pearkes Recreation Centre squealed with delight. Each year, the children come down to the river everyday during salmon season – October through to December – in hopes of catching a glimpse of the fish.
The first preschool group is now in Grade 6, said Chambers, and they still come down with their classes.
On Tuesday, 12 salmon were pulled out of the trap, but there aren’t always fish in the trap when the children come by. However, there is lots of other wildlife for them to observe. Chambers noted that seals have begun to come up the river to feed along with otters, minks and raccoons.
Several other residents stopped mid-walk to watch the large fish wiggle in the net before getting plopped back into the river to spawn. Chambers invited adults to try scooping some salmon with the net so she could assess gender and size and look for an adipose fin – if they’ve got the fin, they’re wild salmon, she explained.
All collected data is reported to the DFO to keep track of the local salmon population.
Salmon in the City volunteers come down to the fish fence several times a day every single day. There are about 10 regular volunteers and if they happen to be busy, Chambers said she drags her husband down to help count. Volunteers have pulled 70 salmon out of the Colquitz River fish trap so far this season. The trap went in at the end of September because of the amount of rain that fell, Chambers explained. Early rains are good because they clear the roads and pathways before the salmon start to arrive. She expects to be counting salmon until November or December.