|This morning I backtracked a few kilometres to the Atlantic Salmon Interpretive Centre. After my disappointing visit to the Salmon Museum in New Brunswick, I wasn’t expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing I learned was that Atlantic salmon don’t die after they spawn like their Pacific cousins. They can live for up to 20 years & come back to spawn maybe 7 times.
The salmon spawning grounds here on the Torrent River were destroyed by the logging that happened in the 1950s & even after logging ceased on 1958, the population wasn’t recovering. There’s a 10 metre high waterfall 2 km from the mouth of the Torrent, preventing the salmon from using the excellent spawning ponds further upstream because Atlantic salmon can only jump 3.6 metres.
In 1965, Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) came up with a plan to build a fish ladder, a series of 34 gradually elevated pools, around the falls to allow the salmon access to the upstream ponds. A good plan but it didn’t work.
Only 58 fish used the ladder in 1971 so they had to come up with Plan B. Because salmon return to where they were born, for several years DFO transferred adult spawning salmon from other streams into the upper reaches of the Torrent & this worked beautifully. Today, more than 5,000 fish use the ladder each year.
This year, the migration started 3 weeks later than normal, with most of the females travelling the 80 km to the spawning ponds in late June. The migration is usually finished by this time of year but I was lucky enough to see about 20 males in the viewing window, resting before they made their way further up the ladder.
They spawn in November & don’t eat for the whole time they’re in the river, in fact as soon as they leave the ocean, they start to lose their teeth. Fascinating, but the lady who showed me around had such a strong Newfoundland accent that I really had to concentrate to understand her. They certainly talk different here.
I stopped for lunch at the Gros Morne Visitor Centre & just after I got there, another motorhome pulled up in front of me with an Australian flag flying from the back of it. There were 3 people, a lady from Ocean Grove visiting her brother who lives in Ottawa plus another Canadian friend.
It was great to talk to them. They’d been all over, through the States & had just come across on the ferry. They were on their way to L’Anse aux Meadows, then across to St John’s so were doing the same trip as I’d done but in the reverse order.