Extreme drought in southern British Columbia causes devastating loss of life in the water and on land
The once continuous flow of cool and clear water turned into a shallow muddy puddle.
In these remaining pools not far from the town of Squamish, British Columbia, three-month-old salmon the size of small French fries are struggling to survive. Its name-Swift Creek-belies its current state, and most of the area has dried up due to drought.
Fortunately, two members of the conservation organization Squamish Streamkeepers Society came to the rescue.
At one end of a puddle only a few centimeters deep, Jack Cooley deployed a fine net about two meters wide. Another volunteer, Patrick MacNamara, started from another, splashing water to scare the fry into the net.
Preserving baby salmon fry
“There are some very small ones,” McNamara said, as the coho salmon flew off in front of him.
Soon, they were scooped up and placed in a bucket with clean water and equipped with a battery-powered pump to keep them ventilated.
He said that in a few weeks, no rain is expected and the area will be completely dry.
“I think it’s important, I think, otherwise they will die,” McNamara said of efforts to catch fish and move them to a safer place.
Cooley used to be an avid recreational salmon angler, but now he spends time trying to keep wild fish alive in streams like this one.
“We have 1,000 fish today and 1,000 fish yesterday. Before we finish, we may get 5,000 fish.”
This The Vancouver area has lacked rainfall since mid-June Records are being broken and the water level in many parts of the province has been steadily falling.
Spawning salmon is also at risk, because warm water and low flow can stress the fish, which can lead to high mortality when the number of salmon that is expected to return to the rivers of British Columbia is low.
According to data from the Federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, the Fraser River, the largest salmon river in the province, is warmer than usual and has 27% less water than usual.
The dust on the farm is flying
On the other side of the province, in the Sicutny area, Matthew Carr usually lush organic farms raise dust. It is also in a level 4 drought, The second highest risk of drought in British Columbia.
“Our soil has become hydrophobic; it is dusty, ventilated and light. It is very difficult to walk or pull a cart through the field,” he said.
Carr grows vegetables and small fruits in Krestova in southeastern British Columbia. Even with irrigation, some crops are burnt and discarded.
“So far this year, crop losses will reach 15% to 20%, especially our lettuce-just like one-third of the lettuce crop we lost, this is a large part of our income and cash flow. “
Carl said that other heat-loving crops are better, such as melons.
He said that hot summers are not uncommon, but due to the early beginning of the drought, this year is unique.
“We usually see such temperatures and conditions in August, but it is really unexpected to see them in late June until July. And I know that many other farmers have to enter the classification mode like us.”
Global weather chaos
Hans Schreier, professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia, was interviewed in an unusually dry Vancouver swamp, which contains a variety of rare plants. He said that drought is just one of many unusual weather patterns in the world . Driven by climate change.
“It became unstable, no doubt.”
Schreier gushes out a list of recent climate disasters, including fires in western North America, floods in China and Europe, and water shortages in Iran, which caused riots.
He said that predicting the weather is becoming more and more difficult because old, reliable models are disintegrating.
“This will become the norm. The problem is that it will not continue to increase, but will continue to change-and what is really worrying is those extreme situations.”
Schreier said that governments around the world are very slow in adapting to and preparing for these extreme situations.
Back in the woods near Squamish, river manager Patrick MacNamara worked to complete the rescue of salmon fry. They have been safely packed in buckets and transported to a new location on the Cheakamus River a few minutes away, but the water is deeper and in the shade.
“There is food, clean water, and many hiding places,” McNamara said, wading into the water, and slowly dumping the bucket containing the fish.
“They are here!” He exclaimed, and then wished them a “good journey.” The fish rushed into their new home, temporarily unaffected by the ongoing drought.