Salmon Rescue Still Underway

Salmon have been on our minds a lot lately. Not only because their existence is key to the survival of our southern resident orcas (not to be confused with the transient orcas in our waters that feast on seals), but because the population was severely in threat and we almost didn’t even know!

View of Big Bar landslide looking north. Note the steep waterfall as a result of the landslide. Photo courtesy: Province of British Columbia

View of Big Bar landslide looking north. Note the steep waterfall as a result of the landslide. Photo courtesy: Province of British Columbia

You may recall, there was a huge rock slide that blocked the path of migrating fish in the Fraser River this summer. It happened just north of the town of Lillooet which is a couple hundred kilometers from Vancouver, British Columbia. The slide was believed to have happened late last year but was undetected until late June due to its remote location.

The slide created a five-meter high waterfall which prevented millions of chinook, steelhead, coho, and sockeye salmon from swimming upstream to their spawning grounds. Government and First Nations groups worked together to move the salmon upstream by manual means, creating holding ponds that allow the fish to rest and then be transported by helicopter to a site further upstream.

The B.C. government says the salmon can now be transported upstream by truck, it was announced today. Crews conducted a successful trial run on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

Rock scalers have also moved two boulders as part of the efforts to rebuild a natural passage for fish to swim past the slide en route to spawning grounds. An estimated 29,000 salmon have passed the slide area by swimming upstream while 57,000 have been transported by helicopter.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans predicted nearly five million sockeye salmon would return to the Fraser River this year. That number has been downgraded to a little more than 600,000.

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called the landslide a “crisis situation” and said 2019 has been a particularly difficult year for wild Pacific salmon, citing climate change and related effects to the decline in stocks.

Here are before and after photographs of the slide. Salmon have been on our minds a lot lately. Not only because their existence is key to the survival of our southern resident orcas (not to be confused with the transients that feast on seals), but because the population was severely in threat and we almost didn’t even know!

Crews work together to move fish into the oxygenated transfer tanks. Photo courtesy: Province of British Columbia

Crews work together to move fish into the oxygenated transfer tanks. Photo courtesy: Province of British Columbia

You may recall, there was a huge rock slide that blocked the path of migrating fish in the Fraser River this summer. It happened just north of the town of Lillooet which is a couple hundred kilometers from Vancouver, British Columbia. The slide was believed to have happened late last year but was undetected until late June due to its remote location.

The slide created a five-meter high waterfall which prevented millions of chinook, steelhead, coho, and sockeye salmon from swimming upstream to their spawning grounds. Government and First Nations groups worked together to move the salmon upstream by manual means, creating holding ponds that allow the fish to rest and then be transported by helicopter to a site further upstream.

The B.C. government says the salmon can now be transported upstream by truck, it was announced today. Crews conducted a successful trial run on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

Rock scalers have also moved two boulders as part of the efforts to rebuild a natural passage for fish to swim past the slide en route to spawning grounds. An estimated 29,000 salmon have passed the slide area by swimming upstream while 57,000 have been transported by helicopter.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans predicted nearly five million sockeye salmon would return to the Fraser River this year. That number has been downgraded to a little more than 600,000.

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called the landslide a “crisis situation” and said 2019 has been a particularly difficult year for wild Pacific salmon, citing climate change and related effects to the decline in stocks.

Here are before and after photographs of the slide.

Kudos to all involved in this rescue effort!