Salmon toss illustrates the circle of life

Group toss salmon carcasses into Douglas Creek to help encourage spawning

Szymon Koscik hams it up with a dead salmon for his sons Charlie

Szymon Koscik hams it up with a dead salmon for his sons Charlie

Peter McCully gets asked a lot about why he throws dead salmon into local rivers.

Since 1992, the biologist from the Howard English Hatchery has worked with the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society for its annual salmon carcass toss at Douglas Creek, which sees members plant salmon carcasses in the water to encourage spawning.

“It’s like fertilizing the river: the nutrients that are carried in the carcasses of the salmon have been acquired at sea,” said McCully. “They’re called marine-derived nutrients, and they’re what make our streams and rivers so bountiful.”

Dozens of volunteers turned out for the salmon toss, along with Saanich councillors Judy Brownoff and Vicki Sanders, and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham.

Because of the rainfall on the west coast, McCully said the rain tends to wash out the nutrients from local streams, making them nutrient poor and negatively impacting their ability to support production of the bottom of the food chain.

However, with a little help from volunteers, Pacific salmon have a way of overcoming the washout of nutrients and eventually making streams more bountiful.

“The fish will come back and spawn once and then it will die,” he said. “All of that carcass is recycled into the food chain, and when the salmon is out at sea and it’s feeding, it accumulates what we call marine-derived nutrients. Things like nitrogen and carbon and phosphorus, and they’re the building blocks of the food chain in fresh water.

“That’s why we’re putting dead fish into the stream.”

The hatchery provided dozens of carcasses for the event, which gained permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to move the salmon between watersheds. Volunteers also released juvenile coho into the creek, which are expected to stay in the creek until May before heading into the ocean and, with any luck, returning to spawn 18 months later.

“We did this last year, and we actually had coho come back last fall,” said McCully. “Things are happening, things are working.”

While the creek still needs nutrients to build the salmon population, McCully said the combined efforts of the society and the hatchery over the last 24 years have already made a significant impact to Douglas Creek.

“In the ensuing years, habitat restoration has been conducted, the water quality has improved to the point it supports fish,” he said. “All of this work, it doesn’t happen overnight – it involves a lot of people, a lot of effort, and in this case, a lot of time. It’s a work in progress.

 

“This is very much evidence of a community initiative that brings people together. It’s really a great showpiece of how volunteer power can make things work.”

 

 

Just Posted

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read