The federal government released drone footage on Sept. 17, 2019 documenting the work done to help migrating salmon that were trapped in the Big Bar rock slide in the Fraser River. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has released drone footage documenting the work done to help migrating salmon after a disastrous landslide in the Fraser River.

The video includes sweeping views of the Big Bar landslide, about 70 kilometres north of Lillooet, as well as crews making progress to clear debris and capturing salmon to transport them over the slide to their spawning grounds.

The first shots are of a pile of woody debris in an eddy at the base of the slide on July 26 and an overhead view of a beach setup showing how the fish were retrieved.

A shot from Aug. 1 shows a fish wheel being rigged and deployed in the river to catch fish as well.

Tens of thousands of salmon were flown over the barrier by helicopter, a painstaking and expensive process.

Days later, a shot shows salmon trying to make their own way up the river, where more debris had been cleared from the eddy. A closeup shows salmon working their way up to a pool, behind a large boulder.

“They’re trying to migrate around it on either side, but not having any success,” says Mike Hawkshaw, a member of the unified command environment unit, in a voiceover.

READ MORE: Big Bar slide a big engineering challenge for crews trying to move fish

Later, with water velocity and levels coming down, crews began to see successful passage of chinook salmon that they confirmed with tags.

“If you look carefully you can see where salmon are resting in pools and eddys as they work their way up the slide, holding behind rocks,” Hawkshaw says.

The shot shows the size of the salmon compared to the water velocity, the drop and, as they get thrown back into the water, the overall difficulty of the migration.

By Aug. 30, the water level had dropped “significantly” and crews observed that both chinook and sockeye salmon were migrating.

READ MORE: Big Bar slide prompts first-time-ever salmon purchase by four Tsilhqot’in communities

Hawkshaw told Black Press Media that before the videos were released to the public, they were used as a communication tool.

Since the slide is in a remote location and “getting into that area where the scalers are working is pretty unfeasible” unless you are an experienced climber, the videos provided vital information to hydrologists, geologists and engineers off site.

“It provided us a lot of information in a safe manner,” he said. “It really makes it possible for people … to get a good idea of what is going on and how the site is changing day to day.”

READ MORE: Chief calls for state of emergency, fishery closure in light of Big Bar slide

The slide was found in late June. Federal, provincial and First Nations officials have been working to reduce the harm to the river’s significant salmon runs at a shared cost of more than $6 million.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford prison has confirmed COVID-19 case

Pacific Regional Treatment Centre is the third prison in B.C. in a week to confirm case

UPDATED: Mission Institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

14 inmates test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Abbotsford taxi company steps up during COVID-19 pandemic

Central Valley Taxi adds plexiglass, cleaning protocols to perform essential service

Salvation Army’s emergency-disaster-service trucks helping cook meals for Abbotsford’s vulnerable

Trucks helping charity provide take-away meals as facilities limit access due to COVID-19

Inmate death reported at prison near Abbotsford

Police, coroner notified of inmate death at Pacific Institution

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Human rights complaint over city’s Pride flag tossed out

Kari Simpson’s attempt to block Langley City’s flag raising has failed

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Canadian Olympian diagnosed with heart failure, possible exposure to COVID-19

Olympic soccer star Karina LeBlanc diagnosed with pleural effusion

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

VIDEO: Fraser Valley singing ensemble overcomes isolation, creates music using digital technology

Members of Belle Voci record ‘a capella’ song together even though they were unable to meet in person

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Most Read