Cortes Island is seeing Pink Salmon in three waterways for the first time in eight years.
Longtime ‘Streamkeeper’ Christine Robinson has only seen pink salmon swimming on Cortes twice in the 20 years she has been observing the fish with her partner. Streamkeepers is a volunteer group of citizen fish scientists observing local streams. They are associated with the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI).
“This is a delight and a surprise to discover that we have them showing up all along the east side of Cortes”, Robinson cheered.
The DFO even asked the local citizen science group to help collect clipped fins from the Pink adult carcasses for DNA sampling, to find answers as to why the Pink Salmon populations are increasing in the region.
“The Streamkeepers, through the prompting of [Department of} Fisheries, took DNA samples ..because we are trying to make some sense of this ‘Pink Mystery’ that is upon us.” Robinson said.
Robinson referred to research actively being collected by Alexandra Morton about why the Pink are showing up in larger numbers and new places.
“She is proposing that since the fish farms in the Discovery Islands… were pulled out a year and half ago …such healthy pink salmon is because they haven’t been exposed to the fish farms [that were previously] in the area.” Robinson explained.
In an issue which may be related, Pacific Salmon Commission is forecasting 11.6 million Pink Salmon in the Fraser River, several million more than originally forecast.
Robinson encourages quiet, respectful observations of the pink salmon migration on the island. “We have a wildlife safari here on Cortes”, she says.
To hear more about the Pink Salmon visiting Cortes Island, listen to the CKTZ News Update below: