Northern BC Summer Research Update

Finding life beneath the surface: salamanders and salmon

By Marjorie Lieuwen, Northern BC Conservation Science Coordinator

August 18, 2022

Our conservation science team had two staff members this summer: myself and Reece. We’ve been having a great field season as we continue to witness the ongoing cycles of creation.

In early June, the long-toed salamander eggs we were monitoring at Silverthorne Lake were nearing hatch! The parents carefully attach their eggs to underwater vegetation in groups of 20-50, pictured below. In June, we wrapped up our bird walks, conducted weekly since March to track the arrival of birds to the Bulkley Valley throughout spring migration. And by the end of June, all our coho salmon fry from the hatchery began the next phase of their life’s journey as we released all 3193 of them throughout the Upper Bulkley Watershed.

Throughout July, Reece and I have been exploring oxbows (a meander of a stream that has separated from the water flow in time) and other off-channel habitats connected to the mainstem Upper Bulkley River. Our goal has been to assess suitability for juvenile salmon habitat and check for their presence using minnow traps. We have been finding that the dissolved oxygen levels are a bit too low for salmon during the warm summer months, and we plan to check again during cooler months as cool water retains more oxygen. However, the summer hasn’t been totally fish-less! We set some traps on Buck Creek and were very happy to find juvenile coho and chinook salmon as well as rainbow trout.

The main highlights from August so far include working at Toboggan Creek Hatchery doing clipping and tagging for their Coded Wire Tag program and completing Pacific Streamkeepers training with ZoAnn Morten. Looking ahead to the end of August, we will begin spawner surveys for chinook salmon, and hopefully we will be able to assist Toboggan Creek catch their Upper Bulkley chinook broodstock for their hatchery.

Spot any salmon in the Upper Bulkley River or creeks in the area?

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