1. How many sockeye salmon are projected to return to Adams River to spawn in 2014?
Millions of adult sockeye are expected this year as it’s a dominant run.
2. Where is the Adams River?
It is in the Shuswap, the heart of southern BC, almost halfway between Calgary and Vancouver.
3. How big is Adams River?
It is 12 kilometres long. Imagine millions of fish in the river beds!
4. How do the sockeye know the way back to the river where they hatched?
The sense of taste, smell and the earth’s magnetism was imprinted on their brains at birth. Seriously.
5. How many people come to see this salmon run?
About 300,000 people from all over the world travel to Adams River in October to witness this epic event.
6. How do you tell the difference between the male and female salmon?
At breeding time, the male develops a hump on his back and a hooked nose, called a kype.
7. What’s involved in salmon reproduction?
First the salmon pair up and search for clean gravel with fast flowing water. Then the female turns on her side and digs a nest with her fin. This nest is called a redd. The male guards the female and the nest. The female lays about 4,000 eggs, the male fertilizes those eggs and they both cover the nest in gravel. The pair repeats this process in the stream. Within 10 days the male and female die. The eggs hatch 3-4 months later.
8. How many of the eggs survive?
Almost 25 per cent of the eggs are successfully fertilized. The fish hatch in a yolk sac called an alevin so they do not need food for the first month. As they grow they use up the yolk sac and by the time they are about one inch long they can feed on insects in the river. At this stage, they are called fry. They hide from predators, often behind logs or under overhanging bushes and trees.
9. How many sockeye fingerlings (young fish) leave the Shuswap Lake after a year?
About 100 million fish venture from the lake through the rapids of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to the Pacific Ocean about a year after hatching. At this stage, the fish are called smolts and have a silver coat over their scales to hide from predators and to transition from fresh water to salt water.
10. Why do the salmon migrate to and from the sea?
Sockeye are euryhaline fish, meaning they can survive in fresh and salt water. They are also anadromous , meaning they are born in freshwater but spend most of their adult lives feeding in the ocean, only returning to freshwater in order to spawn when they reach sexual maturity. Adult salmon eat plankton, other fish, krill shrimp and squid. This builds up their muscle and oil. For the Pacific sockeye, the life cycle is about four years.
It’s interesting to note that other anadromous fish include smelt, shad, striped bass, and sturgeon. North American Eel are the opposite. They spawn in the ocean and live in freshwater.
11. Why do salmon change colour during migration back to their natal lands?
As sockeye salmon journey from the ocean back to the river beds where they were born they swim quickly upstream through treacherous rapids and live off their body fat. They do not stop to eat as they head home. As they complete this gruelling 485 km swim their blue-grey bodies transform into a brilliant red.
12. Why is CWF involved in the 2014 Adam’s River Salute to the Sockeye Festival?
It is critical to share the stories of the salmon with as many people as possible. Salmon are an important source of food and a key part of the economy and coastal ecosystems. When they die after spawning salmon provide a protein source for other wildlife and nutrients for the ecosystem.