What is the out migration?
Each Spring, approximately three hundred million (300,000,000!) juvenile salmon travel from every lake, river and stream in the watershed to the Skeena estuary. This invisible migration goes unseen because it occurs when our rivers are in flood. Looking at the brown, swirling water of the Skeena it is hard to believe that just below the surface one of the most incredible natural phenomena in Canada is happening. Keep an eye out for ducks, kingfishers, and gulls, as one indication that juvenile salmon are nearby; these birds feed extensively on the young salmon during their migration.
Why is it so important?
These young salmon will become the adult salmon that return to our rivers during summer and fall over the next 2-5 years. The abundance of Skeena salmon in the following years depends on the survival of juveniles migrating down our rivers right now. While very few juveniles will survive to return to the Skeena as a spawning adult, the ones that don't return are not lost. They will feed other fish, birds, seals, whales, and humans along the way. Indeed, salmon are the foundation of our economy and culture; they are the most valuable source of food, and support our regions' ancient and unique way of life.
Skeena Estuary; where River meets Ocean:
Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, and the Skeena Estuary is one of the most pristine and productive estuaries of its size in the world. Every juvenile salmon that leaves the Skeena, feeds in the estuary; it is their nursery.
The Skeena estuary is a saltwater sanctuary for the hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon that migrate from across the watershed to the Pacific Ocean. Juvenile salmon arrive at the estuary during one of the most sensitive times of their life, as they transition from fresh water to salt water. The abundant eel grass habitat of the estuary provides a refuge from predators, and food to grow, while juvenile salmon adjust to their new life in the ocean.