Spectacle: Salmon run on the Goldstream River

It’s this spectacle which causes the parking lot of Goldstream Park to spill over to the sides of the Trans-Canada Highway every autumn.

  • Sep. 19, 2013 12:00 p.m.

The salmon run at Goldstream Provinical Park begins in October

It’s late summer in the Bering Sea, where chum salmon are living, avoiding danger and finding food, when something inside of them snaps. It’s an instinctual trigger they can’t ignore, leading them back to the place of their birth and soon, their death.

“They’ve been spending their life out in the ocean for three to four years, sometimes five, growing to be big adult salmon, defeating all the odds against them,” naturalist and manager of the Goldstream Nature House, Tracey Bleackley explains. “Once that trigger has gone off they stop eating and they’re just swimming. They’re just heading here.”

Goldstream River is one of the last on Vancouver Island to have its salmon run, primarily because of its southern location. For tourists and residents alike, however, it’s one of the most accessible and well-known spots to see this cycle of nature in action, drawing thousands of people.

After the journey south, achieved through scent, sight and a natural ability to find magnetic north, the salmon make their way up the river when the temperature drops, the rain increases and leaves start dropping from the trees.

The females begin to swim against the current of the river as they search for the exact spot they were born. They can get within a metre of their own birthplace, using scent to pinpoint the location.

Females dig holes in which to lay their eggs as the males fight one another for fertilization rights. The female sinks into her nest and leaves her eggs, at which point the dominant male has just 15 seconds to fertilize them. Both the male and female fish, having laid and fertilized all the eggs they can, die.

It’s this spectacle which causes the parking lot of Goldstream Park to spill over to the sides of the Trans-Canada Highway every autumn.

It’s far from the end, though. What park staff refer to as “the clean up crew” begins its work. Multiple species of birds an d mammals, including hundreds of eagles, some bears and wolves, make their way to the river to feast on the dead fish.

Long after the scavengers have left, as the sun moves closer to our part of the world and the waters of Goldstream River begin to warm up in the early days of spring, the labours of the prior fall begin to pay off. The eggs begin to hatch, first into alevin, and then into fry, thousands of them, wiggling their way out of the gravel to begin their trip to the open ocean, ready to face a dangerous life in the hopes of starting the entire process over again.

 

By Kyle Wells

arts@mondaymag.com

Just Posted

Last call for Egypt fans at Royal BC Museum

More Christmas events to come this month, but Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs winds up Dec. 31

‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ make for Peninsula Christmas pantomime

Peninsula Players production runs Dec. 21-28 at the Mary Winspear Centre

Claremont brings timeless message to stage with It’s a Wonderful Life

Student production offers the cautionary tale of George Bailey

REVIEW: Ethiopian cuisine offers an escape from the everyday

Allan Reid appreciates the food, ambience at Blue Nile buffet-style restaurant in Esquimalt

REVIEW: Journey enjoyable, destination elusive with Griffin and Sabine

Monday reviewer Sheila Martindale offers up her take on latest Belfry Theatre production

Kendrick Lamar leads Grammy noms, where women make a comeback

A list of nominees in the top categories at the 2019 Grammys, including Kendrick Lamar, who is the leader with eight nominations, were announced Friday.

Dick Cheney biopic ‘Vice’ tops Golden Globes nominations

“Vice” topped all contenders Thursday, in nominations announced at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, including best picture, comedy and best actor nominations for Christian Bale.

Actor-comedian Kevin Hart will host 2019 Oscars

Hart will host the 2019 Academy Awards, fulfilling a lifelong dream for the actor-comedian.

Margaret Atwood to write sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Publisher McClelland and Stewart says it will publish ‘The Testaments’ on Sept. 10, 2019

Most Read