Saturday, October 22, 2011

Every year in early October . . .

. . .  the Sockeye Salmon make their run of the Adams River. Every 4th year is a "dominant" run, with millions of fish to be seen (2010 and 2014 will be dominant runs). Nearly 10 million sockeye salmon returned in 2010 to the Fraser River and the Adams River.

Did you know the name Sockeye comes from a poor attempt to translate the word suk-kegh from British Columbia's native Coast Salish language? Suk-kegh means red fish.

It's an epic migration . . .

The Adams River sockeye travel from their spawning grounds to the South Thompson River, then into the Fraser River, and enter the Pacific. From the Strait of Georgia, they spend three years in the open ocean. There, they follow Arctic currents to Alaska and the Aleutian islands. Retracing their route to the Adams, they complete a round trip of over 4,000 km.

Only 1 out of every four thousand eggs live 
to return . . . 
Struggling against insurmountable odds, 1 out of every 4 thousand eggs laid in the Adams River lives to return to the Adams River as a spawning adult.

Grizzly and black bears; Native fishermen, commercial fishermen and sport fishermen pursue the sockeye salmon from California to Alaska, both in the North Pacific Ocean and the rivers where the salmon enter to spawn and die.

Their transformation is such an anomaly!

The sockeye's physical transformation is an amazing anomaly and miracle of nature. They do not eat during this period of their lives. They rely on fat reserves stored up from heavy feeding in the late summer.

During this time, the salmon take on their distinctive red color. The male fish also develope large humped backs and aggressive hooked mouths. They are very protective of their mates and will aggressively fight other males to protect their mate.

It is also beautiful to watch their gentleness with their partner. Both are exhausted by the time they reach the spawning area, so the male nuzzles or rubs against his mate to encourage her to create her nest in the rocks of the stream bottom and deposit her eggs.

The miracle of nature . . . 

Of all the salmon species, the sockeye has the broadest migration range in the Pacific Ocean, reaching as far as Japan.

We had the great fortune of seeing the 2010 dominant run and it truly is amazing. We stood in awe at the number of fish and their life & death battle to reproduce. The miracle of nature . . .

Getting there. . . 
As we neared the park we encountered a long line of traffic that moved along very quickly with everyone being directed to a parking spot. The Park had a variety of information stations and vendors for drinks.

For Playlist of all videos: 
To view videos, click on the player, find icon that looks like a monitor. 

Urgent Update:  via Taiwan News October 21, 2011

Deadly salmon virus raises concerns in U.S., Canada
"Scientists in Washington state are working to improve testing of a deadly, contagious marine virus as a precaution, after the virus was detected in wild salmon for the first time on the West Coast.

Researchers with Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and elsewhere announced Monday they had found the influenza-like virus in two juvenile sockeye salmon collected from the province’s central coast. The virus, which doesn’t affect humans, has caused losses at fish farms in Chile and other areas, and could have devastating impacts on wild salmon in the region and other species that depend on them, the researchers said."
(click on Title for rest of article)
More on this: Further study urged on virus found in Pacific salmon

Update: Sept 07, 2014

This was thought to be another banner year for the Sockeye Run. We just visited the Adams River and Scotch Creek. Apparently the Scotch Creek run is down significantly and nearly over already.

The Roderick-Haig Brown Park was closed for renovations and readying for a 'salute to the salmon'. Sadly, hundreds of European and local tourists were turned away from viewing a spectacular miracle of nature at that location. The park apparently is reopening October 5, 2014. This will be near the end of the run, meaning one might view piles of dead and decaying fish, but not the frenzy of the spawn. In any case, the playlist below contains our adventure to the Adams River and Scotch Creek to see the miracle of the Sockeye salmon!