Chum salmon returned

The Chum have returned to Basil Creek

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

The Chum have returned.

Squirrel Cove’s eagles have been announcing this to anyone listening, for weeks.

Three juveniles rose to flight, in response to the human presence at the mouth of Basil creek. They left their meal on the bank. The head of a salmon had been pecked off. Its body lay further up the bank.

A juvenile eagle left the head of the chum salmon, at the bottom of this picture. The body was three or four feet away on the bank – Roy L Hales photo.
Viewing Chum in front of the Basil Creek culvert – Roy L Hales photo

At the mouth of Basil Creek

There were at least a dozen salmon swimming nearby and others waiting to enter the creek. They scattered at my approach. One or two fled back to open waters, reminding me not to proceed further. I photographed some of the salmon waiting around the next bend, then retreated.

There is a second look-out, where visitors can stop without intruding on private property. There were between three and four dozen upstream at Basil Creek’s new culvert. Most were swarming around the front, but at least a half dozen were on the other side.

Peering around the next bend – Roy L Hales photo

Previous years

Last year’s run was disappointing. Cec Robinson told Cortes Currents there were perhaps 50 on the whole of Cortes Island, but there had been close to 1,300 in 2016. So Cortes Island Streamkeepers anticipate a much stronger count this year.

A second Chum carcass from where the three young juveniles were feasting – Roy L Hales photo.

The October 17th count

The Tideline carries Christine Robinson’s report of a survey of Basil Creek made two weeks ago, on October 17th. A party of young streamkeepers from Cortes School broke into four groups, each of which made its own tally. One group counted 197 Chum: 110 females and 87 males. The aggregate count varied widely: 

  •  live fish – numbers between 80 and 286
  • dead – numbers between 8 and 28

The students counted between 12 and 40 predators. (They counted every raven & crow!)

Christine asked that visitors keep their dogs on leases or, better still, leave them at home.

A crow stayed behind to watch – Roy L Hales photo

James, Hansen and Whaletown creeks

There are three more salmon bearing creeks on Cortes Island. James Creek runs through the Children’s Forest into Carrington Lagoon. Hansen Creek empties into the Gorge Harbour. Whaletown Creek runs through the other new culvert into Whaletown Lagoon. 

Friends of Cortes Island Streamkeepers will continue to monitor and count spawners from mid-October through November.

The fin of a Chum salmon, waiting to enter Basil Creek, breaks the surface – Roy L Hales photo

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