August 04, 2016 - 6:30 PM
OKANAGAN - The early spawning of kokanee on Deep Creek could be an attempt by the land-locked salmon to adapt to climate change.
Fisheries manager Howie Wright with the Okanagan Nation Alliance says there’s nothing particularly alarming how early this year’s spawning season is occurring, even a month early.
“They have come early before, although this is pretty early,” Wright says.
He says there could be many reasons why and they include an initial reaction to climate change.
“It might be that something in the lake cues them to do the early spawn. It might be an adaptation thing, if those that spawn early do better than other spawners long-term that could be a good thing as far as climate change goes,” Wright says.
There’s also a chance the kokanee were already coming earlier in the last few years, just not in the numbers that people were noticing.
“Maybe they were already coming here, just nobody really looked and counted them,” he says.
His staff have already counted several hundred kokanee in Deep Creek in Hardy Falls Regional Park with signs the spawn is well underway. The Central Okanagan Regional District has moved forward to this Sunday the start of its kokanee interpretive program and festival because of the change.
Wright doubts there is a connection with the early spawn to the fish die-off reported in the north end of Okanagan Lake, which he says has been attributed to sudden changes in water temperature.
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