Chum salmon have returned to a small creek near UBC, showing the power of community to give nature a leg up in urban settings.
The Park Board released a short video this week of Chum salmon spawning in Spanish Banks Creek, which was daylighted in 2000. It's one of three streams that are part of the Pacific Spirit Regional Park watershed which empty into English Bay.
The practice of daylighting is when traditional streams which have been buried and diverted into culverts are exposed and rehabilitated.
In East Vancouver, Still Creek on Grandview was once one of the most polluted creeks in the city before a few different groups got together and daylighted portions of it. Salmon have been returning to it to spawn since 2012.
But the fish are not appearing magically on their own. Each year salmon fry are raised by children in the DFO's Salmonids in the Classroom program. Children in Vancouver essentially adopt a batch of fertilized salmon eggs that live in a temperature-controlled aquarium in their classrooms. When they hatch, the kids feed the fish every day, then release them into creeks. These releases generally take place in April and May.
The salmon will spend a period of time in the creeks before making their way out into the ocean. Four years later, they return to where they were released in order to spawn.
More salmon-bearing habitat on the way
Vancouver City Councillor Michael Wiebe tells Vancouver Is Awesome that there are a number of daylighting efforts getting underway in the city right now.
Wiebe says that Canyon Creek, which is near Spanish Banks Creek, will begin getting daylighted soon. Tatlow Creek in Kitsilano should see construction starting in 2022. A longer-term project is China Creek, just south of Science World.
The councillor also notes that "Kinross Creek and Vivian in East Fraser Lands are also an opportunity."
Can you go see the salmon?
Nature photographer and videographer Fernando Lessa shot the video below for the Park Board. He tells V.I.A. that there's no use in going to try to see them this year, as raccoons have already "done a pretty good job" of eating all of the fish, which would have likely already spawned and were holding in the river, where they end their own life cycle.
However, they should be back next year.
This week we welcomed back our salmon friends as they passed through Spanish Banks Creek—a very positive sign!— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) November 10, 2021
Since the mid-90’s, the Park Board & partner groups have worked diligently to restore this area in order to improve fish passage and create overwintering habitats. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/SEyPvrarh9