Thousands of local salmon are returning to local waters for one of the biggest natural phenomenons in the South Island.
Nearing the end of their lifecycle, the salmon have found their way back to Goldstream Provincial Park.
“Last week, we counted over 1,000 fish alone,” Tracey Bleakley, park naturalist with RLC Park Services says. “They’ve come a long way to get here because we’re one of the last rivers they swim through.”
Every year, an estimated 30,000 salmon make their way through Goldstream Provincial Park. Right now, Bleakley says it’s too early to tell whether they will pass or fall short of that number.
Many salmon have traveled thousands of kilometres over their four-year lifespan to return to the same waters they were once born in. Salmon are known to have magnetite in their bodies, which gives them the ability to feel magnetic north and have a successful migration.
The spawning season lasts from late October to early December. Over that time, thousands of Chum salmon return to Goldstream to spawn and then die.
“It’s pretty incredible to see this natural phenomenon just a few steps from our nature house,” Bleakley says. “It’s nothing like you’ve seen before. To see all these adult salmon, it’s truly a spectacle. They’re just so huge.”
Visitors are encouraged to bring polarized sunglasses to see the fish without the glare from the water. Bleakley adds that throwing items into the water is discouraged and dogs are best left at home.
“If they do come, make sure they are on their leash and won’t enter the water because they will disturb the spawning process.”
Visitors are encouraged to avoid wearing brightly-coloured clothing, such as reds, purples, or pinks, as salmon can see those very well.