With new signs posted to tell people to not harrass the fish, but instead to let them get on with reproducing, the chum salmon continue spawning in Buckingham Creek, and are drawing groups of the curious to watch the action. Good thing too it seems; someone was wading in the creek on Friday trying to catch the fish by hand! Let’s hope the fool didn’t do too much damage to the small spawning area these fish are using.A number of the people watching the salmon here have been asking where the fish are coming from. Well, they’ve had quite the journey. After spending a relatively short time in freshwater, the chum fry migrated to the Pacific ocean where they grew to maturity returning to their natal stream 3 to 5 years after departing.Their route back to Buckingham Creek and Deer Lake is quite the trek. From the ocean, the mature fish swim up the Fraser River, then turn into the Brunette River, and continue up the fish ladder past the Cariboo Dam, through Burnaby Lake, and then up into Deer Lake Brook crossing under the Highway 1, and Canada Way until they finally enter into Deer Lake, and up Buckingham Creek where they are attempting to complete their life cycle.
According to people I’ve spoken to at the creek there was a significant return of fish to spawn on Buckingham Creek about 15 years ago. Are these fish we’re seeing now a struggling remnant of a generation of fish hatched here back then? After all Paul K commented on the previous post that he saw a dead adult here in 2009. Has this population of fish been struggling along at small numbers for all these years, largely unnoticed or completely unnoticed? Or are these fish the returning adults of fry released by an elementary school child 3 to 5 years ago? Comments on the first post about these salmon have noted that school programs raise fish in classroom aquaria, and then the students release them into the local streams.
If you look closely at where the salmon are now spawning, a few stray eggs can be seen atop the gravel. Milky-coloured, these eggs are dead, but beneath the gravel, let’s hope there are probably viable ones. Signs of the times indeed.