Fish Carcasses Still in Abundance -- and so are the Eagles

Festivals and Fun

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Last Saturday was again a wondrous day on the Harrison River with the Fraser River Safari Tours -- a boat load of people saw some 3500 eagles -- an incredible sight.

The spawning is over and only dead fish carcasses are still around though we did see a few "dying salmon" in a deeper pool near the Harrison River Bridge.  They were spawned out and waiting to die -- and being watched by many eagles.

With the fish carcasses being fewer this week the competition among the eagles is getting greater.  One benefit for us viewers is that carcasses that are lying along the main river channel that we travel are more eagerly sought by the eagles -- so we see the eagles at closer range.  The water levels of the entire Harrison - Chehalis system is still very low which keeps the spawned out salmon in the immediate area.  If we get huge floods this washes the carcasses out to deeper waters and away from the eagles' access.  On the other hand, lying in wait in these deeper waters are an enormous number of huge sturgeon.  Fisherman come from around the world to see and catch these 185 million year old fish.  Some 4000 sturgeon have been tagged in this area. 

While sturgeon are a rare and endangered species world wide, we have a very large "catch and release" fishery right here.  This has also been used to tag the fish for a better understanding of their movements and life expectancy.  We often see the fisherman -- usually several at a time, since the fish can weight several hundred pounds -- dragging these monsters into the shallow water for the "trophy photo" before letting these ancient behemoths go.

Jo and Rob, who own Fraser River Safari Tours, who make these trips into these unique waters possible, have agreed to undertake another tour -- Dec. 29, Thursday. 10:30 a.m. at Kilby.  I will be aboard to see this incredible site again and offer some biological and historical perspective on the eagles and other wildlife.  I recommend this tour in their warm covered tour boat as a way of seeing something absolutely unique in the world.   Hope to see you on the 29th.  FRS Tours: 604-826-7703 or 1-866-348-6877 toll free.

Season greetings.

David Hancock

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