The Secret Life of Salmon

With each step my foot sinks into a thick mat of woven moss and with each step I wonder whether there is anything beneath this mat to support my weight. I step cautiously, just in case, but I’m also trying to keep up with my partner, Chester Starr (the Lone Wolf), who moves swiftly through the brush following fresh wolf tracks. I try to remind him that he’s tracking fish this year, not wolves, but I know where his heart lies.

We’ve been in the field for two weeks and have surveyed over 170 streams that have previously been unknown for salmon presence. Incredibly, we have found salmon or trout in over 50 of them. Amazing really, when you consider how small some of these systems are. The other day I pulled a juvenile coho out of a creek that snaked its way discretely through the salal and was no more than half a meter in width. Compare this with Neekas, where the floor of the estuary was coated with fish bones; evidence of last fall’s spawners. I realize now that one can’t overlook even the tiniest creek as potential salmon habitat.

These two weeks have been an incredible experience for me. I have watched Pacific white sided dolphins play in the bow wave of our research vessel, photographed a resident pod of orcas against the dramatic cliffs of Spiller Inlet, and watched the sun set as harbour porpoises quietly surfaced in the foreground. Above all, I have been part of a dedicated team that has worked hard to add to the knowledge of wild salmon on our coast. I feel very honoured to have this opportunity.

Nicola Temple

Wild Salmon Program Coordinator
May 5, 2004
Bella Bella, BC

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Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.