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Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia is a wonderful place to go kayaking or canoeing. I spent a week there in September. Aside from the paddling, the area has some great hikes and scenery. And the number one reason for me to visit the lake again? The spawning salmon. Not just any salmon, but the mighty Kokanee - these mega-beasts get up to 1 pound (although I don't think I ever saw one that big), with a length of 8 - 12 inches.
I am intrigued & enamored with this diminutive salmonoid (Oncorhynchus nerka). The reason individuals in this population are so small is that they spawn on a two year cycle, instead of the usual 3 or 4. They turn the same red & green colors as their bigger brothers/sisters, and some get the same hunched back, but not to the same degree.
I hope you enjoy my attempts to show off these little gems, and my attempts at underwater photography with a modified DiCAPac waterproof case. The camera inside was a 7D with 15 - 85mm kit lens.
1. The Beginning & The End - There are a number of creeks the salmon migrate up to spawn. This is one. After spawning, like other salmon, they die and wash up on shore, or float down the creek back into the lake.
2. Plying The Cool, Clear Waters - Swimming not far from the mouth of the creek, this lonely Kokanee is possibly awaiting a mate, and is swimming on the spot against the current.
3. The Happy Salmon - I grin every time I look at this pic. Anthropomorphism is fun!
4. Queued Up - Further up the creek, there are deep pools, often with natural dams of logs and branches. They typically have a few openings wide enough for the fish to get through, and sometimes they try jumping over the obstacles. But there sure is a backlog. And hey! What is that trout doing in there?!
5. Falling Apart Over Love - This specimen is beat up from its reproductive efforts. Many of the fish are missing bits and pieces.
6. Paired Up - Many of the fish pair up, and then vigorously defend their small territory.
7. Now I Know Why The Smile - The Happy Salmon is really happy now that it has a mate.
8. But... - It is not long before the once smiling fish is breathing its last few gasps along the edge of the creek. Soon, the color fades, the sparkle leaves their eyes, and decomposition begins in earnest.
Please let me know what you think of the underwater shots.