David Clements is a columnist with the Langley Advance Times

David Clements is a columnist with the Langley Advance Times

GREEN BEAT: The salmon just keep swimming

When life’s fights seem too impossible to win, think of the perseverance of these fish

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

Often, when I watch the rain out my window or listen to it pour down on my rooftop in the night this time of year, my mind turns to the salmon that are reveling in the rain.

For the salmon, the rain means higher water levels enabling them to traverse parts of our local streams that become inaccessible during the dry months of late summer.

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What really spurs them on is the tantalizing scent of their home stream, where they were born.

Like a child intent on a cookie, the salmon are obsessed with their goal and little will stop them.

The cookie jar has to be pretty out of reach for the salmon not to make it, especially for our rugged coho salmon that often spawn in very small ditches.

One impediment to salmon was a blocked culvert at West Langley Hall in Walnut Grove, and thanks to a Township of Langley project this summer, local residents were able to see salmon in parts of West Munday Creek this fall for the first time in 14 years.

Speaking of seeing salmon, this is a perfect time to look for these intrepid fish in our local streams.

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In Langley we are blessed with 11 major watersheds with salmon: West Creek, Nathan Creek, Murray Creek, Salmon River, Yorkson Creek (including West Munday Creek), Nicomekl River, Pepin Creek, Anderson Creek, Bertrand Creek, Latimer Creek, and Little Campbell River watersheds.

During a recent morning, I sought the salmon out in Williams Park, in the Salmon River watershed.

Sure enough, the brilliant red coho were there, fighting their way upstream to their birthplace to spawn and keep the circle of life going before their exhausted bodies wore out completely.

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They were quite a sight, nose pointed upstream, stopping for a while, and then pushing themselves against the current, occasionally splashing in the shallow waters.

These coho had spent one or two years in their natal stream before heading to the ocean, and had somehow survived the gauntlet of hazards encountered in the sea, and everywhere in between.

They had left minnow-sized and returned nearly two-feet long and packed with current-fighting muscles.

Surely, these rugged creatures are an inspiration to us as we often find ourselves tiredly swimming upstream, and tempted to lay back and let the current pull us away from our goals.

When that happens to you, think of the salmon, and just keep swimming!


David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University