Saanich residents enjoyed a morning in Mount Douglas Park filled with friends, family and dead salmon.
The annual Salmon Carcass Transplant took place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at Douglas Creek.
More than 50 people attended, including Saanich Councillors Susan Brice and Colin Plant, Minister of Agriculture and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham and residents of all ages, noted Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park.
Attendees – decked out in rain gear, rubber boots and cotton gloves – placed 120 partially thawed salmon carcasses into the creek and planted 50 saplings, Wick said. The salmon was brought in by staff from the Howard English Hatchery at Goldstream and the trees were provided by Saanich Parks and Recreation.
Wick was so pleased to see so many people out to help with the process which he said mimics nature and fertilizes the surrounding area.
Salmon die after spawning and as they decompose, they feed other animals, cycling marine-derived nutrients through other parts of the ecosystem.
While salmon return numbers vary, the population has been low in Douglas Creek for several years and 2019 was no exception, Wick explained. He said he wondered if the lack of rain in November had something to do with it, but noted there are several factors that could have contributed.
The Friends of Mount Douglas Park have been working for many years to restore the creek and bring salmon populations back up. Wick feels that educating the public has been an important part of the process. The increased awareness about the ecological restoration work has helped reduce the number of incidents that have a negative impact on the creek, he noted.
Over the next few weeks, the salmon carcasses will be eaten and eventually, just their bones will remain, Wick explained. In the spring, coho fry from the hatchery in Goldstream will be brought to Douglas Creek to be released in hopes that they will imprint on the creek and return there to spawn. Residents will be invited back to the creek to attend the fry release once the dates have been set.
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