Mosquito Creek Spawning Salmon History
Historically, Mosquito Creek supported strong populations of Cutthroat, Steelhead, Pink, Chum & Coho salmon. It was documented that the returning fish numbered in the thousands.
Today however, we are lucky if we see tens of fish return. Mosquito Creek is located in the heart of North Vancouver, British Columbia. The area has become heavily ubranized since the 1950's. Due to urban development, channelisation for flood management, culvert construction and storm water diversion the numbers of returning salmon have decreased dramatically.
The MosquitoCreek.Org website has documented returning salmon from 1995 - 2005. During this time frame surveyed fish numbered from a high of 20 in 1996 to a low of 1 in 2005. It is hard to know what exactly led to this harsh decline of fish over this 10 year period, but such a small stream with such low flows in the summer is susceptible to pollution that could wipe out all the fry and smolts in the stream in a single year.
I have been a member of the Edgemont Village community for 26 years and frequented Mosquito Creek in my childhood, I never came across a live or dead salmon in all my time. In the Fall of 2016 I joined the North Shore Stream Keepers (NSSK) in hopes to document and help raise the number of returning salmon, steelhead and cutthroat.
In November of 2016 I began my first salmon surveys, albeit out of the water, so simply sightings while walking the paths and trails. I was surprised to find my first Chum salmon in the lower reaches of Mosquito Creek, just south of the 3rd Street bridge. As I continued walking I spotted 8 more Chum Salmon. This total of 9 was greater than the documented numbers for 2003/2004/2005 combined of total salmon surveyed. Interestingly enough only 6 Chum during that 10 year period were ever counted and I had surpassed that with a single days worth of sightings in 2016.
Recently, the District of North Vancouver changed a portion of the creek just above Marine Drive, so much so that myself, NSSK, and DFO suspect that this area of the creek is now no longer passable for Chum and Pink Salmon. I do not recall what this portion of the creek looked like prior to the completion of this area in October of 2016, but when I saw all the heavy equipment in the creek I suspected they would be digging a deep pool or something valuable to the fish rather than building a boulder riffle.
The biggest question of all was why this work was done during the spawning times of summer-run Steelhead, Coho & Chum? The only thing they possibly could have done worse was do it during the same months on an odd year - a Pink spawning year. The pumps for water diversion were stirring up fine silt which must have been terrible for the already laid Chum eggs as this would cover the eggs making them unable to breathe. I will be conducting fry and smolt trappings in the lower reaches of the creek in the spring to see the survival rates of these fish.
Enough with the negative news, back to the positive stuff!
See below for videos of some returning salmon in both Mosquito and Thain Creek.
I apologise in advance for the sub-par quality.