Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saving the Chinook Salmon - A Story of Grassroots Action

Andrew at Hidden Valley Park
First of all, happy Thanksgiving!

I returned home for this weekend, and was absolutely in love with the pleasant autumn weather. So I thought, what better to do then spend some time enjoying the beauty of the Canadian outdoors? With one of my best friends, we decided to go to Hidden Valley Park in Burlington to observe the seasonal Chinook salmon that are currently running up the rivers and spawning.
Chinook Salmon
When we got to Hidden Valley Park, we ventured through some brush to get to a shallow, somewhat narrow stream. We were suddenly amazed to see at least a dozen large Chinook salmon attempting to swim further upstream!

Chinook salmon are an anadromous fish species, meaning live in the ocean mostly, and breed in fresh water. They are native to the Pacific Ocean, but some were planted in the Great Lakes in the 1970s to control the population of an invasive species known as the alewife.
The Alewife, an invasive species to the Great Lakes.
So, the Chinook salmon are currently passing through the rivers of Southern Ontario, upstream to larger, deeper, and safer spawning grounds. Their nests (called redds) are the place where females they lay hundreds of eggs that will be guarded by the female fish for several weeks before they die. At the same time, the males mate. 

Returning to what we saw during our outing, we soon wondered why the salmon hadn't moved upstream at all after several hours. Then, as we looked upstream, we noticed a very major problem that confronted the salmon, and that was the existence of a beaver's dam blocking the entire width of the upstream. With the dam there, the salmon could not go any further upstream. This troublesome situation prompted us to go and investigate the beaver's dam.

You may be wondering what we saw once we got there. Luckily, I brought my camera with me, so I actually ended up making a short documentary to capture the amazing action that we witnessed. Now you may be thinking, "it's just a beaver dam, how could there be any 'amazing action' "? I'm talking about watching people getting their hands dirty to make real grassroots action to solve a problem.

Please watch the short video below to find out what one man (and some very motivated youth) took upon themselves to save hundreds of future Chinook salmon, and in doing so, preserve, support, and respect one of millions of species of wildlife.

This is just one incredible example of the kinds of people that we have in our communities; people who take action and do good deeds when no one is necessarily looking. I hope that, by reading this story and watching the video, you have been inspired even a little bit more to become a person who takes the time to help the world become a little better - healthier, cleaner, safer, happier - through your own personal actions.

Keep striving,

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