Last week I went on a helicopter ride with Gerry, my father in-law, to count of Kokanee Salmon in the Camp Creek near Valemount, BC. We were invited by Curtis Culp of Dunster, BC, which is in charge of this conservation effort run by BC Hydro. Here’s a picture of Gerry leaving the chopper (from Yellowhead Helicopters).
Kokanee salmon is a land-locked relative of Sockeye salmon. This means that they spend all their life in inland lakes, never seeing the ocean. For spawning they enter inlet streams of the lake where they live. Camp Creek is a smaller tributary of the Canoe River, inlet of the Kinbasket Lake, where these Kokanee live.
The number of fish is estimated visually from the helicopter using a hand-held tally counter (every ~100-fish patch is a click). As a matter of facts, Curtis and Gerry counted fish, and I went along for the fun. Their estimates were really close, coming in at 15,000 and 15,400 in ~35 minutes over a ~15 km stretch of the Camp Creek. I counted 15 between Bald eagle and Golden eagle, and took some photos. Here they are!
Wildlife and nature photos
The first two are photos looking straight down the Camp Creek. Believe it or not, there’s fish there. See the dark spots? Those are Kokanee Salmon. And the job was to count them, so I am glad I did not have to (although it was easier to the naked eye).
The next two are a couple of photos taken at the ground level, courtesy of Curtis. Here the salmon is easy to see.
The next two are also photos of the creek from the helicopter. There’s fish in there but I can only say it because I saw them, I can’t quite make them up in the photos. I love the shots though, the crystal clear water and the shadows.
The following two are photos with eagles. I could not believe how tiny they look, since even at this distance they seemed huge to the naked eye. There is a bald eagle in the first photo (middle left) , the other two (in the middle of the second photo) are too tiny, it is hard to say.
This last one is a photo of the trees, just looking down. I find it mesmerizing.
Upon looking at all the photos (I took about 80) I have to say that as much as I love my iPhone 4S, they are not nearly as good as I had wished for. Certainly far from the photos I shot during a claim staking trip in the Cassiar Mountains near Watson Lake, Yukon using a Canon FTb 35 mm (one of these days I’ll have to get those photos out of the attic and publish some of them). I often think of going back to my reflex camera, although I hear the iPhone 5 camera is a big improvement, with the iPhone 5S being even faster, so there’s hope.
Here’s a beautiful elk. I took it another day, on the highway just outside of Jasper, but I thought it would fit in here.
I love meander rivers so I took a whole lot of photos of the creek. The first one shows a nice sandbar right where we started the counting.
This next one is a nice shot of the meandering creek looking back.
In this third one you can see two nicely developed meander loops with point bars.
Last, but not least, a really tight meander. I love this photo, it’s my overall favourite.
Human activity photos
I am also including some photos showing the human footprint on the land. This first one is a clearing – I am not certain for what purpose, likely a new development. The circular patches are places where the logs were collected and burned. Quite the footprint, seen from here.
Next is something I did not expect to see here, a golf course – although I probably should have…. they are omnipresent, and often obnoxious, to say the least.
This is one I quite like: the creek, the railway, and the Yellowhead highway, all running next to one another.
Finally, a shot of Gerry and I in the back of the chopper and one of Gerry counting.