A Few More Chums

Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) and Fall Colours
A Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) and fall colours on the banks of the Puntledge River.

The weather has been rather wet and dark over the last couple of weeks making photography challenging. Fortunately, the rain has brought a rise in the water levels of rivers emptying into the Courtenay River estuary (both the Tsolum River and the Puntledge River join together to become the Courtenay River a short distance from the river mouth). Less than ideal light for photography, but great news for salmon waiting to swim upstream to spawn.

Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) Head
Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) head detail – Tsolum River.

I love photographing dead salmon. There’s something beautiful in a fish carcass missing an eye or slowly decaying on the banks of the river. At this point of the run, there’s plenty of fish in the side channels focused on the task of spawning before dying, making for good wildlife viewing.

Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
I was only able to find one Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) washed up on a gravel bar on the Tsolum River near the Comox Exhibition Grounds earlier this week. There will be more!

Eventually the fish die and become food for scavengers—birds, animals, and insects make quick work of the decaying fish. Fish dragged into the surrounding forest provide nutrients for plants.

Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
A Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) on the banks of the Puntledge River in Courtenay, BC.

I’ve been able to find plenty of chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) washed up on the shore on the Puntledge River and on the banks of the Tsolum River. I’m looking forward to a break in the weather and another chance to go down and visit a few more chums. Who needs zombies when you can find a few decaying fish?

Read more about the fall salmon runs:

  • Experience the “tail” end of the 2011 chum salmon run on the Puntledge in A Few Dead Chums
  • Read about the 2011 coho salmon run on the Little Qualicum River in Searching for Salmon

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