We’ve done a very limited amount of exploring during our initial 3 weeks here, before heading off on another 6 months of travels.
On our walks, we noticed that giant trees and lots of wildlife were the major differences from what we were used to in Ontario… plus “real” mountains, of course.
We’ve observed lots of raptors circling above the treetops. We were hoping that with the salmon spawning in the Coquitlam River – just a block away – we might experience bald eagles descending to clean up the carcasses (salmon die after spawning), but while we saw quite a few dead salmon, whatever was eating them did so unobserved by us.
On one of our walks we spoke to a staff member from a fish hatchery who was scooping buckets of water from the rocky shallows into a large tub. A couple of other hatchery staff were capturing adult salmon as they returned to their stream of origin, removing their large orange egg sacs, and putting the egg sacs into that tub of water. These eggs taken from the returning spawners are fertilized and incubated at the hatchery. The fish from which the eggs were taken (who would have died after spawning anyway) will be eaten or processed into pet food.
In a hatchery, juvenile salmon survive at rates many times greater than in the wild, and when they are large enough they are released back into their native waters, ensuring a sustainable wild salmon population. That releasing of the fish is what differentiates a hatchery from a fish farm, where the salmon are kept in a net pen in the ocean for their entire lifetime. ALL the “farmed” salmon end up as food; only a portion of wild salmon do.
The staff member told us that 2-5% of hatchery salmon, identifiable by their “clipped” adipose fins, successfully make it back to the Coquitlam River to spawn, which is apparently an excellent result. (there’s a really good explanation of the how and why of fin clipping at http://www.mossomcreek.org/fin-clipping-whats-it-all-about/)
Our most iconically BC sightings during our stay have been the black bears, which are EVERYWHERE, including on the suburban street on which we live.
Every backyard here is sturdily fenced. All garbage is locked in steel cages or inside garages/garbage rooms. That, fortunately, was enough to deter the bear trying to get at our garbage one evening. It managed to rip a board off the fence leading to our yard, but not to open the gate. Son#2’s loud yelling and clapping persuaded it to lumber off down the street, perhaps looking for easier pickings.
I’m sure we’ll get the chance to see much more wildlife when we return at the end of April for a 6 month spring/summer stint. Our plan then is to more fully explore this beautiful part of the province.