ecoCaledon

environmental citizens organization

The role of fish in the Northern BC rainforest

In Northern British Columbia, Canada’s coastal temperate rainforest stretches from above Vancouver all the way to Alaska. It houses immense amount of biodiversity and is the habitat for legendary large North American mammals, like wolves, wolverines and bears. Three types of bear, in fact, live here in the remote drizzly forest: The grizzly, the black bear and the illusive Kermode (spirit) bear. (The spirit bear is an all white black bear that is revered by locals). This forest is aptly called The Great Bear Rainforest. Bears are at its heart, and are a keystone species that help the forest function and grow.

Bear fish thousands salmon out of the rivers here each spawning season. Salmon carcasses are distributed, via the bears’ messy eating tactics, throughout the riparian zone of the forest and act as fertilizer for the ancient old-growth trees; delivering marine-derived nutrients like N15 into the soils. Some scientists theorize that the reason the trees in The Great Bear Rainforest grew to be so large and so old is because of the bears fertilizing the soil with their dinners each spawning season.

This is an example of the interconnectedness that exists in all ecosystems throughout Canada, and throughout the world. Species are integral pieces to a large puzzle of biodiversity, and removing a species can have catastrophic effects on an ecosystem. For example, if Grizzlies continue to be overhunted in British Columbia, or if the salmon population is prevented from spawning by an event such as an oil spill the vegetation of The Great Bear Rainforest will lose its nutrients and decline.

I encourage you to watch Spoil, a documentary that outlines the salmon-bear relationship in British Columbia, and let it inspire you to see the interconnectedness of all life in Canada.

spoil video image
SPOIL  A powerful award winning documentary on the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposed to stretch from the tar sands to the Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British …
Haleigh Ryan

Citations:

Moola, F. (2015, October). What are B.C’s policies and laws? [Powerpoint].

 

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