Sunday, November 4, 2012

Did Somone Say Salmon?

For several weeks between mid-August and late-September, this was a very common sight at the Goodyear Dam on Bowmanville Creek, just a short walk from Frank's place.

salmon fins
Dozens of Chinook salmon (intermingled with a few trout) wait near the base at the fish ladder as they regain some strength and determination to make their way upstream to spawn. I recently posted about the ladder here, and at that time, indicated that I would tell you about the salmon transfer that took place at the dam, this year.

Human intervention was required as so many of the Chinooks have outgrown the fish ladder which was originally constructed for significantly smaller trout. The hope was to transfer as many salmon as possible before the end of September (their final number of transferred fish totaled 5,540 which exceeded their goal of 5,000) and then start construction on the new, improved and larger ladders.

Funds and time have posed a problem, and now the new ladders will not be in place before next summer. That's okay as far as the spring trout run goes as they're still able to use the old ladders. Hopefully the new ones will be in place for next autumn's salmon.

You're probably wondering how it is that people go about sending 20 to 30 pound (9 - 14kg) salmon up a dam. I had no idea, myself and so I headed over to the creek to watch the volunteers at work. Lucky for you, I brought my camera with me. Did you honestly expect otherwise?

Along the way, I noticed that these men were transferring the salmon in a different way - home to the dinner table.

fishing woes
Others were not going to be allowed to transfer them anywhere. They were caught fishing without a proper license and their vehicles and fishing equipment might well have been confiscated because of it.

But back to the transfer.

fish transfer11
Dozens of volunteers came out on various days to help with the process. Before school began in September, many of those helpers were kids. They worked tirelessly to net, hold and carry fish that probably weighed about twenty to thirty percent of their own body weight. This photo was snapped in late August when the air and water were considerable warmer.

fish transfer19
It was a much easier catch for this guy than for the young girls. He seemed to be having a pretty good time.

fish transfer28
Another one nabbed.

fish transfer25
Volunteers worked together to transfer the fish from the net into a sack.

fish transfer33
Frank guesstimates this one to be at least 25 pounds (11kg)

fish transfer36
Once the salmon is bagged, it's hooked onto a pulley to make its way to the top of the dam. Now you know what the bird seed sack was all about in the previous post.

fish transfer13
Volunteers at the top of the dam are there to receive the fish, record the numbers and to weigh the ones they feel are particularly large.

fish transfer23
The salmon is carefully removed from the bag, placed into a basket and passed over to waiting hands in the water at the top of the dam. The fish is held in the water for a while as it regains its equilibrium - necessary after being suspended upside down for the trip up the pulley system.

One after the other, fish are handled in this fashion and then released. I witnessed many of them eventually slide right back down the dam. Perhaps some of those had already completed the business of spawning. Perhaps they were just too exhausted to make it. I hope that most of them did though.

Sadly, these numbers only represent a fraction of the fish which were trying to make it over the dam, this year. There are simply far too many salmon - more every year. They are probably putting a dent in the trout population, which is disappointing to many - especially the trout.

salmon roe2
And speaking of trout, the amber globes seen in the previous post was a close up of salmon eggs. The roe is often collected and kept as bait for trout fishing. When anglers are walking back to their cars with the salmon in tow, the roe will often spill out along the path behind them.

This less than two minute video shows the transfer process for one salmon from start to finish. Please keep in mind that I had a large, heavy lens on the camera, and when switched to video mode, it does not allow me to hold the camera close to observe through the viewfinder (my preferred means of snapping shots). I had to extend the camera and lens out in front of me to look through the live capture window instead. Therefore, there are a few portions which are quite blurry while I struggled to maintain focus and avoid the shakes. I apologize for that and hope you enjoy the video anyway.

More photos coming up in a few days.


Unspoken said...

Who knew?!

stephen Hayes said...

I applaud the effort to help these great fish return to their spawning ground. Humans keep disrupting their habitat and we run the risk of losing these fish forever.

Leave It To Davis said...

This was so educational! I had no idea there were people who were helping salmon make their way to spawn. This speaks highly of these individuals! I loved this. Thanks so much for such an informative post!!! Are you a teacher? If not, you are now!

Unknown said...

That's just amazing...I love that these individuals are so committed!

Anonymous said...

What dedication from those volunteers! And great shots.

Dave said...

What an enlightening blog Hilary. Thanks for this. Your video made the process even clearer. Well done to all of those volunteers who worked to help with this - Dave

Indrani said...

This is learning!
Fantastic with pictures and all.

Andy said...

You did an excellent job with your collection of photos and narrative. You should be a news reporter.

Bob Bushell said...

You do amaze me, no, I wouldn't have guessed. Fantastic images.

Nadezda said...

well done, it is good that people can see the work of volunteers.
May would be easier to rebuild the dam to fish could go up? It's a shame on those who catches spawning salmon,
they are killing the future salmons.

Tabor said...

The video shows how hard the work really is...and how dangerous.

Steve Gravano said...

Awesome documentary Hillary. I can not see some of the posted photos, the internet is slow here. Still no electric. I'll have to bookmark this to view when things are up and running normal.

Birdie said...

I love this! Score one point for the salmon. Question - Are people allowed to fish while the salmon are spawning? I thought it was illegal. Not just wrong but illegal!

Brian Miller said...

that is really cool...i wonder though if them not having to struggle in the ladder though does anything to know....i mean its great to help but i wonder if they become dependant over time...

DJan said...

We have volunteers who help salmon up some ladders here, too. I've never watched the process, but now, thanks to you, I know how it's done! Awesome job, Hilary, and kudos to those volunteers! :-)

Country Girl said...

Wow. That is incredible!

ellen abbott said...

wow. I wonder what all those salmon thought of all those people there in the water. dang humans. get outta my way! over 5,000 one at a time. amazing.

CiCi said...

This is a wonderful lesson, and I applaud the volunteers for giving their time and energy to a worthy cause.

You did a great job explaining and sharing with us. I for one have never seen the actual journey but now I have even more appreciation of salmon.

CorvusCorax12 said...

very interesting, learned something new today. Thank you!

messymimi said...

Amazing, and i hope they can get the new ladders done very quickly.

Red said...

Interesting post. I appreciate that you have showed the whole process. It's too bad they couldn't move more fish. I got one of your pictures and although there was a link I couldn't put them together. Now from some of the things you say, I'm wondering if both thee species are native?

Ruth Hiebert said...

This takes dedication,to go to all that work. It looks like hard work.Thank-you for sharing this,I had no idea anything like this was ever done.

TexWisGirl said...

wow. that young girl is TOUGH! huge kudos to all the volunteers in this effort!

i'd have never guessed the bird seed bag was a salmon elevator.

Meri said...

I feel like I've been on a field trip with you. Some lovely people portraits in this post.

Barb said...

So interesting, Hilary. I'm thinking about the number of meals one of the unlucky salmon that can't make it over the dam might make for a nursing home, senior center, or needy family. Are there just a bunch of dead fish left at some point?

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing teamwork, I am impressed with the devotion taken. I do like it thinly sliced on a bagel.

Dawning Inspiration said...

Wow - what great captures of this! We have a salmon ladder at the locks here in Seattle. It's fun to watch them when it's that time of year...

Frank Baron said...

Educational AND interesting. You hit a home run. :)

Betty Manousos said...

thank you for this wonderful and informative post.
thank you so much for sharing.

it was an amazing, delightful treat!

big hugs~

christopher said...

Excellent...and I didn't realize the salmon could grow so large.

Glo said...

Amazing photos, Hilary. In the photo of the girls and first glance I thought one of the girls had been scooped up in the net ;) All told, a fascinating look into the spawning part of the salmon lifecycle.

sage said...

Great photos. That's a lot of work for the salmon but worthwhile. It is neat to see the fish when they are moving upstream like that. A few weeks ago I was in Elk Rapids and got to see them spawn.

Gail Dixon said...

Fascinating! I was hoping you'd remember to come back and share the process. :) I can't get over how huge those fish are!

Dan said...

Fun and interesting... can't beat that!

Grass root works at its best too!

You sure you're not working for CityTV... "City News Everywhere!" :)

Lisa Gordon said...

Wow, this looks like hard work, Hilary!
These are wonderful images.
Thank you for sharing here.

yaya said...

Wow, amazing and seeing how hard those volunteers work they must really be dedicated to this task. Looks very tiring! Thanks for sharing this..I had no idea. That's what so cool about learn something new all the time!

Kerry said...

What a fantastic huge effort. Thank you so much for documenting it! I think I would be exhausted after just a couple of successful captures of these guys; holy cow, that young girl did a mighty good job of hauling a humongous fish through the current. Wow.

Glad to have the mystery solved regarding those golden drops of roe. I didn't know they looked like that!

Liz Mays said...

This is really quite a remarkable thing they're doing. I LOVE that you posted about it to show us! Those are huge fish!

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

I really enjoyed this post, Hilary. And, boy, do I admire the dedication of the volunteers who worked so hard to help over 5,000 salmon on their journey.

Have you ever considered a monopod for your camera? They're lightweight and a little more portable than a tripod. They set up easily, or you can just balance them on your tummy or some other part of your body. It definitely helps when the image stabilizer isn't quite enough.

Cloudia said...

ancient renewal! ever fresh and venerable... timeless

Aloha from Waikiki,
Comfort Spiral

~ > < } } ( ° >

~ ~ ~ <°)333><( ~ ~ ~
> < } } (°>

Hilary said...

* Amy, so nice to see you. :)

* Stephen, I agree with the sentiment but those Chinooks are not at risk. Their population is growing steadily each year. :)

* Thanks for the kind words, LITDavis. I'm not a teacher. I just play one on my blog. ;)

* Thanks for the visit, Roshni. :)

* Thanks, Fiona. :)

* Thanks very kindly, Dave. :)

* Much appreciated, Indrani. :)

* Thanks for the kind words, Andy.

* Thanks kindly, Bob. :)

* Nadezda, they will be rebuilding the fish ladders in the spring, hopefully. It was the plan to do that this fall before the salmon run but that didn't work out. There are far more salmon every year than perhaps there should be. It's legal and acceptable to fish for them. Thanks for your visit. :)

* Tabor, there's risk but there were always a lot of people around to help if any one of them got into trouble. And the water closer to the dam is much shallower. I noticed that on another day. Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Thank you, Steve. I hope you have your power back on before too long. :)

* Hi Birdie. It's neither wrong nor illegal around here. The Chinook population has increased dramatically over the past few years. Many of them will die slowly if they can't make it over the ladder. I'm glad you stopped by. :)

* Brian, they're salmon at the end of their life cycle. They are following their instinct to swim upstream, spawn and die. So there is no worry about what this might do to them. And thousands more are not making it through the ladders because they have grown to such a size that they need the new, larger ladders which will hopefully be in place by summer. Thanks for the visit. :)

* I'm glad you enjoyed, DJan. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

* Good to see you, Kate. :)

* I wondered that myself, Ellen. The two-leggeds are being weird again! The 5,000 was over a period of about 6 or 7 weeks. :)

* Thanks very much, CiCi. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

* Thank you, Corvus. :)

* As do I, MM. :)

Hilary said...

* Thanks, Red. The link between the three photos (and two posts) is as follows: The bones in the third photo was of a Chinook salmon, picked clean by some creature. The sac in the second picture is like the ones in this post, used to carry the salmon up the pulley. The roe is from one of these salmon, and used to lure trout. The salmon are not native but were introduced to Lake Ontario in the 70s. Their numbers have grown considerably since then. They're native to B.C. Thanks for your interest. :)

* Thanks, Ruth. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

* Tex, she caught fish after fish, that way. She was very impressive, indeed. :)

* Good to see you, Meri. Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Barb, sadly there are far too many dead fish at the end of this. Essentially, they're there to spawn and die. Unfortunately, they're, old, weary and tough at the end of this cycle so they really don't make very good eating. Thanks for your visit. :)

* Steve, that's my all time favourite way to enjoy salmon, too. Add cream cheese to that and make sure it's a toasted Montreal bagel. Yum! :)

* SD, they're very cool to watch. Everyone should see salmon jumping at least once in their lives. Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Frank, I'm glad you enjoyed the game. :)

* Thanks so much, Betty. Much appreciated and hugs right back at you. :)

* Thanks, Christopher. These were pretty average. Some of them dwarf these by quite a bit. :)

* Thanks, Glo. I had also noticed how that image appeared and I knew that if anyone would also see it, it would be you. You did not disappoint. ;)

* Thank you, Sage. I'm glad you got to witness them, as well. It's quite the amazing process. :)

* Thanks, Gail. I always had in mind to do the post. It was just a matter of when. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

* Ha, Daniel. Remember when they were "the eyes of Toronto?" :)

* Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. Much appreciated. :)

* Thank you, Yaya. Blogging sure is amazing that way. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, it must be quite exhausting for those volunteers - particularly the young girls. They did a great job. :)

* Kerry, wasn't she just amazing? She's just a little thing, herself. I'll bet her parents are very proud of her. Thanks always for your visits. :)

* Thanks, Liz. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

* Linda, a monopod would have probably worked quite nicely in this case. I so rarely photograph things that require any kind of stabilizing like this. I didn't even use my own camera (which doesn't have a video function) but rather, Frank's, which is a newer version of my camera with video. That lens ordinarily doesn't give me trouble (except the weight of carrying it around) as I always hold it close and look through the viewfinder. It was the having to look at the display window, and therefore holding it out which gave me a hard time. Once we have our place, I would like to set up my tripod from time to time.. out over the lake.. starry nights.. sigh! Thanks always for your visits, my friend. :)

* Lovely to see you, Cloudia. :)

Kerri Farley said...

What a GREAT thing to do for the Salmon!

Anvilcloud said...

Hilary, this is so cool. Thanks for this. I loved it. Every now and then I am proud of belonging to the human race.

Sharon Wagner said...

That was very interesting. I think I might pass this post along to my father in law. I sure know a lot of men that would love this volunteer job!

Mental P Mama said...

This is so heartening to see!

Sueann said...

I enjoyed it very much and find it fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing

Daryl said...

bravo/brava to all those volunteers ...

Rosemary Aubut said...

Wow what a great post! Great photos as well! I love salmon and it is so good for you too!

Maggie May said...

Huge salmon and they are really tasty and so good for you.
Very busy photos.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Suldog said...

That is absolutely fascinating, Hilary. I had no idea. Thanks!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, you captured some amazing shots.

But must have been heartbreaking to see some of the fish slide right back down again!

Sounds like a great workout for the volunteers; maybe they could package it as an "ecological bootcamp" and drag some people out of their gyms for a good cause!

Anita said...

This is better than any science class I've ever had. :) So I can image how the participates of this salmon party feel. What an awesome experience for them... and for you and Frank, too!

Anonymous said...

Francisca at View through my global lens has been doing a fabulous series of shots of the peoples of the Philippines. Here's the link to her latest post.

Mage said...

Absolutely marvelous. Thank you.

photowannabe said...

What an amazing process. So glad there was some help for these glorious fish. Thanks for the video too. Amazing.

Kat said...

Wow! That is a lot of work! What fabulous volunteers!

Thanks for posting this! It is fascinating! :)

Linda said...

Wow, that is quite a process! It is good to see champions of fish welfare. Tis indeed fascinating! I never knew what an effort is was for them to get upstream.

lime said...

wow, that's a heck of a job! kudos to all the volunteers and thanks for sharing it all with us.

Anonymous said...

So cool, Hilary! It's very inspiring to see the trouble all those folks go through to help the salmon. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

Dianne said...

ahhhh people can be wonderful
I love this

the salmon eggs are beautiful!

thanks for checking in on me and for all the worry
love ya more than my luggage

hugs from me and Hope

Pauline said...

Splendid bit of reporting. Our relationships with wild things are always so tenuous and iffy. Good to see folks helping out when help is needed.

LindyLouMac said...

An interesting series of photos, the first one is my favourite. :)

Lynne with an e said...

Is it terribly wrong of me to have a sudden craving for a salmon burger after reading this post?

Hilary said...

* Thanks for stopping by, Kerri. :)

* AC, I'm glad you enjoyed it and yes, these folks done good. :)

* Sharon, I hope your father in law enjoys it. :)

* Thanks for your visit, MPM. :)

* SueAnn, glad to hear it. :)

* Daryl, well deserved. :)

* Rosemary, indeed it is. Thanks for the kind words. :)

* Maggie May, they're quite the beasties. Thanks for your visit. :)

* Suldog, my pleasure. I'm glad you enjoyed. :)

* Crabby, leave it to you to find a way to turn it into a workout. I'm glad you stopped by. :)

* Anita, thanks so kindly. Much appreciated. :)

* Fiona, thanks, I'll include it in my next POTW as your recommendation. :)

* Thank you, Mage. :)

* Sue, thanks kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed. :)

* Kat, I'm happy to share. Thanks for enjoying it. :)

* Linda, they're amazing fish and very kind volunteers. I'm glad you stopped by. :)

* Thanks, for the vlsit, Lime. :)

* Barbara, thank you kindly. :)

* Dianne, so good to see you. I'm glad you're okay. Sending love right back at you. What kind of luggage? ;)

* Pauline, thank you kindly. I'm glad that it touched you. :)

* Welcome, Lindy Lou Mac. Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Louciao, not at all wrong. Caviar on the side? ;)

Unknown said...

How encouraging tio see people working together so hard for. the right reasons, Hilary!