Large numbers of pink salmon are returning to our area this summer.

“I am seeing these pink salmon return – their numbers appear huge, they are leaping everywhere, finning along the surface for hundreds of kilometers,” emailed independant biologist Alexandra Morton.

Lara Sloan, a communications advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), wrote they are expecting a strong return to the Campbell River, based on the strong outmigration from the 2020 brood, cooler ocean temperatures and better food.

Pink salmon jumping – from Alexandra Morton’s twitter feed

She added, “The numbers of pink salmon in the Campbell River are similar to 2020 at this stage.”

Streamkeeper Cec Robinson pointed out that there isn’t a pink run on Cortes Island.

“Sometimes on a big pink year, a few ‘vagabonds’ stray into our creeks, but not on a regular basis.”

few showed up in Basil Creek during 2015.

There have been some good pink runs on Quadra Island in recent years.

A couple of dozen fishermen were strung out along the banks of the Campbell River, when Cortes Currents dropped by on July 28.

Some of the fishermen on the Campbell River – Photo by Roy L Hales
Another view of the fish schooling at the John Hart Generating Station on Campbell River – Photo by Roy L Hales

One of them remarked that the pinks seemed unusually small.

Sloan disagreed, “the fish are bigger than last year and 2020.”

“The 2022 Return are from the 2020 Brood who went out in 2021 where ocean conditions had significantly improved and more conducive to improved salmon survival.  Pink fry leaving the Quinsam in 2021 were estimated just under 11 million natural production along with just over 4 million of hatchery supplementation (Total Production of ~15 million contribution to the 2022 return).”

Chart courtesy DFO

Morton pointed to the removal of fish farms from the Discovery Islands, “These are the first generation of salmon to return after swimming through the salmon farm clearances in the spring of 2021. I counted the lice on pinks that spring and issued the huge thank you to Bernadette Jordan because they were so clean.”

She added,  “Clearly ocean conditions were exceptionally good, so this (strong Pink Run) is a combination of factors.”

Top image credit: Some of the hundreds of fish schooling below the John Hart Generating Station on the Campbell River – Photo by Roy L Hales