WATCH: Thousands went to Goldstream Park to catch the salmon run this weekend. But this year, there are fewer salmon to see. Isabelle Raghem reports.
The number of salmon spawning in the Goldstream River has dropped significantly this year. That’s what volunteers at the Goldstream Provincial Park found during their fall salmon count.
On Nov. 8, they counted 2,066 salmon, down from 6,754 around the same date in 2016 and 12,539 in 2015. They spotted 25,669 salmon five years ago in 2012.
“It is concerning. Whats happening to them and why they haven’t returned?” said one park visitor Saturday.
The average number of salmon spotted at this time of year over the previous five years was more than 14,000 according to records from the Friends of the Goldstream Nature House
“It’s a bit upsetting and a bit worrisome,” said Park Naturalist Tracey Bleackley. She says it’s hard to pinpoint what is causing the sharp decline, but there may be several contributing factors.
“Predation levels may be a little higher, maybe there’s more animals out in the Saanich inlet that are fishing the salmon, maybe there’s commercial fishing, these are all things that come in to pay,” said Bleackley.
Some tips for park visitors include trying to stay quiet near the river banks to not disturb the fish while they’re building their nests, keeping dogs outside of the water and not throwing anything in the river.
Volunteers will be doing bi-weekly counts this month, crossing their fingers a larger numbers will stream in as the run continues.