Squamish Streamkeepers Update-Sunday, May 9, 2010
The newspapers and TV news have been full of excitement over a Gray whale and 200 White sided dolphins feeding in Howe Sound over the last week. The main draw for the dolphins, and perhaps the Gray whale, are the herring that spawned recently under the Squamish Terminals dock and are now trying to leave Howe Sound. The success of the Streamkeepers piling wrapping program in bringing back this herring run has exceeded our wildest expectations. Since herring spawn after three years of age and three years ago we had only wrapped 88 pilings but since have wrapped twice that many as well as added extensive linear material, it would appear the run could increase even more dramatically over the next two years.
The survival rate from hatched out herring egg to mature spawning adult over the past three years (Herring need 3 years to reach spawning age) must have been very high which indicates the basic plankton food chain of Howe Sound and Georgia Strait must be intact and puts to rest the notion that the Georgia Basin is a “dead zone” incapable of raising the numbers of fish that it once did. If the herring can come back so quickly and dramatically, perhaps the salmon can as well if their obstacles to survival are removed.
With that notion in mind, five Squamish Streamkeepers joined the “Get Out Migration” march from Port Hardy to Victoria to get open net salmon farms out of the migration routes of our juvenile salmon. Scott went to Sointula with his film crew and followed Alexandra Morton and her entourage of supporters as they came down the east coast of Vancouver Island by foot and boat. Ana, Jack, Thor and Jonn joined the entourage at Saanich Saturday and marched to the Legislative buildings where a crowd of approximately 4,000+ supporters greeted the marchers. Speakers included numerous Native Leaders, MLA’s, MP’s and others who wish to bring back our rapidly declining salmon stocks by removing the impediment of open net salmon farms.
Sunday morning, the Streamkeepers toured many of the Squamish salmon streams and found copious coho fry recently emerged from the gravel of the smaller, warmer streams such as Swift Creek, Hop Ranch Creek, Branch 100 Creek, Buck Creek, and lower Wapiti. Large juvenile coho which will leave soon to the ocean were seen in the Ashlu channels. One coho redd in the new lower Wapiti Second Clearing spawning area had over 300 newly emerged fry. Larger, colder streams like Upper Wapiti and other Ashlu Channels haven’t shown as many coho fry emerging yet.
Sunday afternoon, new Streamkeeper Ted Franklin from Lion’s Bay took Brian Davies and Jonn for a boat ride to view the dolphins. They saw thousands of surf scoters, and lots of seals at Pam Rocks including several newborn but the dolphins had left. After returning to Lions Bay we saw the dolphins in the distance returning for another round of herring sushi. Along the dock shoreline were hundreds of chum salmon juveniles feeding actively on their way to the north Pacific. The chum numbers seem much higher than seen the last two years so perhaps the eagles, and Thor, will sleep better.
Next weeks goal is to wrap more pilings during the low tides if access is available next weekend under the West Dock.
Jonn Matsen, Squamish Streamkeepers Herring Coordinator
Part of the motley crew at the Saanich headquarters of former Squamish resident and now NDP MLA for Saanich South Lana Popham (nee McIntuck). Lorna McIntuck also marched with us. Racheal Shepard and Mary Mitchell came separately.
This is Lana McIntuck today
Thor and Alex
The entourage arriving at Lana Popham’s Saanich headquarters having walked from Sidney.
Alex and Ana marching to the Legislature. Alex said she is in better shape now.
Alex with long time resident of Echo Bay, Billy Proctor who is speaking to the audience at the Legislature. The man in the hat and vest with his back turned is Arthur Black who acted as MC.