Herring Spawn Head’s Up

It’s all in the timing and it’s easy to miss. Last spring I was lucky, and the kids and I witnessed the amazing spectacle that is this country’s largest annual Pacific herring spawn. In other years, I’ve been a day or two late or early. The aquamarine colour of the water is a sure sign that the spawn is on! This …

Salmon Nurseries in the Tsolum River and its Tributaries

Guest post by Jennifer Sutherst As our noses are affronted with the smell of salmon carcasses feeding our aquatic habitats, our local streams and rivers are playing host to the completion of the salmon life cycle as adult spawners return to lay their eggs and die.  We saw a huge run of pink salmon a reasonable run of chum are just …

Deep Bay Marine Field Station

At the end of a crushed shell road lies the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, a research facility run by Vancouver Island University. It’s a gorgeous location overlooking Deep Bay and the station is spectacular in its design, looking a little like a huge clam shell. In addition to being used by Vancouver Island University for aquaculture and marine conservation …

Herring are Here!

It was such a gorgeous day on Sunday that I packed the kids in the car and headed down to Parksville. Both A and C love the playground on the waterfront, and it was a pretty easy sell to get them moving. Typically, we try to work a nature walk (or two) into any day trip and I figured that …

Stream of Ghosts

I’ve been experimenting with long exposures and photographing moving water (and chum salmon) down at the Puntledge. I don’t have the technique quite right yet and really need to get some neutral density filters so that I can get longer shutter speeds. It has been fun trying different things out and it’s forcing me to use my tripod (which I …

A Few More Chums

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 …

Strand Line Buffet

With the wild wind we have had in the Comox Valley this week, there are bound to be some interesting things washed up in the strand line along the beaches at Point Holmes and Goose Spit and other beaches on Vancouver Island. Earlier this week I was out at Point Holmes looking for some last signs of the herring spawn. …

Herring at Goose Spit

I always love getting down to the edge of the sea and at this time of the year there is even more incentive to wade into the tidal pools and poke around. In late February and early March it pays to watch for flocks of very active gulls and groups of barking and feeding sea lions. Both of these are …

Searching for Salmon

If you want to experience the awe inspiring spectacle of a salmon run, consider making a trip up to the hatchery on the Big Qualicum River in the next week or so. I headed down island and checked out the Big Qualicum River Hatchery and was amazed at the number of Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)  and Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) …

A Few Dead Chums

You can smell when winter arrives in Courtenay, British Columbia, particularly if you’re driving through an area of town known as the “Puntledge Bowl.” Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) lie draped over the rocks in a side channel slowly decomposing and adding nutrients back into the river and surrounding land. At this time of year, the Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) are …