Bowmanville Creek salmon get a lift
Over the past couple of weeks, volunteers lifted more than 560 chinook salmon over a damn in Ontario’s Bowmanville Creek , allowing them to reach to better spawning grounds upstream.
The lift took place at the Bowmanville Creek fish bypass, which Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources built more than two decades ago, when it introduced chinook salmon to the province’s waterways. Many of the larger fish can’t make the jump, get stuck on the concrete dam and die. It’s estimated that only one per cent of the large salmon make it up the creek to spawn.
While construction of a new bypass channel is planned, it’s behind schedule, and the last year’s mild winter has meant the salmon are arriving in the Creek earlier than usual. According to reports, the fish began heading upstream to procreate about a month early this year.
That’s where Valleys 2000, a community group dedicated to the preservation of Bowmanville’s river valleys, comes in. In mid-August, around 100 volunteers from the group began wading into the southern Ontario waters and manually transporting the fish using canvas sacks attached to a cable and pulley system. The volunteers net the fish, and then put them in the nylon or canvas sacks. The fish are met on the other side of the dam by another group of volunteers, who release them back into the creek.
The lift has proven to be quite successful, and not only in numbers. In the process of moving these fish, volunteers have helped the salmon in other ways as well, removing everything from parasitic lamprey eels to fishing hooks attached to them. The group is also keeping records on the fish lifted over, which includes whether any have a clipped fin that would signal a stocked fish.
The lift is expected to continue until at the end of the salmon run, which commonly occurs in late September.
More articles on how this summer’s unusually warm temperatures have affected fish: