The Squamish Streamkeepers began to monitor the wild salmon bearing streams and tributaries of the Squamish River before they became an organized group in 2000. At this point in time there was dire need to help rejuvenate a dwindling Coho Salmon population in the Squamish Watershed. Initially, the main focus of the streamers was to help enhance salmon bearing habitat, and conduct salmon counts via stream walks.
Presently, we monitor and conduct stream walks on the smaller salmon streams, not the main-stems, and spawning channels from Furry Creek in the South to 29.5 Mile Creek in the upper Squamish Valley in the North, and Swift Creek in Paradise Valley.
Every fall when salmon begin their journey up river we insure that all obstacles are removed that may inhibit wild salmon from returning to their natal streams. During spawning season, using fifteen or so volunteers, we count the returning Chum, Coho, and Pink Salmon. In February the total counts are compiled and published, and emailed out to engage interested locals and report to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Additionally, in the summer some of our streams and channels dry up, necessitating us to rescue stranded Coho Salmon fry.
Pacific Salmon Life Cycle
There are five species of Pacific Salmon, Chinook, Chum, Pink, Coho, and Sockeye. All these salmon have different spawning and rearing habits, and some live longer than others like the Chinook Salmon which can live up to nine years of age, whereas Pink Salmon only live up to two years. In a Pacific Salmon life cycle there are seven stages, i.e. fertilized egg, alevin, fry, parr, smolt, adult, and spawning adult. Chinook Salmon hatch out within 90 to 150 days after deposition. In the alevin stage they live of their yolk sack hiding in their gravel nests called redds a month or so before they emerge as fry. How long fry spend in fresh water varies with each species. Chinook spend 12 to 18 months in fresh water before traveling downstream to the estuary. In the estuary the water is brackish which is a combination of salt and fresh water. Here the smoltification process takes place for several more months where Chinook undergo a complex series of physiological changes and young salmonid fish adapt from living in fresh water to living in seawater as an adult. Salmon only spawn once at the end of their life cycle and a large adult female can carry 17,000 eggs!