Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Good News for the Day - Record Coho run on the Colquitz

Colquitz Fish Fence - all photos courtesy of the GCTA
One of the Colquitz Coho
The run is not yet done and much larger numbers of fish have migrated up the Colquitz than any previous year I am aware of.   Last year there was a total of 210 fish, this year we are over 1000 already.  In the 13 or 14 years there has been active count on the Colquitz, there have been between 200 and 300 Coho, nothing like this year.  I am told the record was something like 525 a decade ago.

On November 2nd of this year they counted 446 fish, a new record that is much higher than the past recorded record of 162 in one day.

In an inner city suburb it is good when nature is not far off
The fish are counted at the fish fence, which is that bridge like structure just behind Montana's at Tillicum Mall.  It is easy enough to find if you want to go see what is going on.  I have been told the best time to come and watch the action is at around 10 am which on most days is when the count is done.  I will go check it out on Thursday morning.

The recovery of the Gorge waterway and the Colquitz are examples of what can be done when people put their mind to making positive change.   It is a great example that doom and gloom is not the only path, we can make changes to improve the world.   There was a time when the Gorge was filled with raw sewage as well as pollution from the Inner Harbour.   The Colquitz was effectively nothing more than a fetid drainage ditch.   Now we have a strong return of the fish, we see otters and seals in the Gorge, we can swim again in the waters.   In about half a generation we recovered the waterway heart of this region.

These fish remarkably have swum past two bridge construction projects.  They also all swum through the Inner Harbour with all the floatplanes, yachts and the Coho ferry.  

There are reports of spawning salmon on the Colquitz as far as Mann Ave, in the Copley Park area and Swan Creek upstream from Violet ave. The most common place for the Coho to spawn is on a small gravel bed near the fish fence.

I have not heard for certain, but I hear other creeks in the region are having decent salmon runs.

A view of the fish fence in operation
I think it is important for us as people to have functioning parts of the natural world close to where we live.   It is too easy for modern urban humans to become disconnected from the natural world but each time we recover something like the Colquitz we become a bit closer to how we humans managed to exist for hundreds of generations.

The work to recover the Colquitz to what it can be has been done by hundreds of volunteers.  People have done this not because they are being paid to do it, but they have done it because it is the right thing to do.   Humans by nature are cooperative and have a deep need to make the world a better place.  

This recovery of the river is because of the work of many people and organizations
Colquitz Salmonid Stewardship and Education Society
Gorge Tillicum Community Association
Julian Anderson and his friends of Cuthbert Holmes
The District of Saanich
Gorge Waterway Initiative
and others that I have missed.
Chris Bos of the Colquitz Salmonid Stewardship and Education Society at work
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