The Skeena, the oolichan and the frenzy of the gulls

Robin Rowland 

Gulls feed on oolichan on the Skeena

The oolichan, the tiny oil rich fish that sustained the First Nations of British Columbia for millenia come up the rivers in the early spring. At least they come up those rivers where oolichan (Thaleichthys pacificus) still survive. Like the salmon, the oolichan live their adult lives in the ocean and then return to their native streams to spawn and die.

One of the rivers that still sees an oolichan run is the Skeena. Gulls, eagles, ravens, seals all come to feast as the oolichan migrate upstream. The gulls, sensing a feast after a long, harsh winter, are almost in a frenzy, circling and diving over the spot in the river that the oolichan migration has reached.

On Friday, March 8, I was driving to Prince Rupert for an assignment and stopped at the Telegraph Creek rest area. I was lucky, for it was at Telegraph Creek, a great spot for photographs, that the oolichan had reached. There were a few naturalists at Telegraph Creek watching the show. It was an elderly couple who first clued me in to what was going on. Thank you.

Mostly gulls. An eagle flying overhead. Seals or sea lions just upstream.

If I didn’t have that assignment I had to get to in Rupert, I would have stayed at Telegraph Creek most of the day. But as it was, I did manage to get a few shots of the hundreds of gulls circling, wheeling and swimming. I got a couple of not very good shots of an eagle overhead (not very good which is why they’re not here) and the seals or sea lions weren’t anywhere close. So I stayed as long as I could, then it was back in the car for work.

Gulls feed for oolichan on the Skeena

Gulls feed for ollichan on the Skeena
Gulls feed on oolichan in the Skeena River at Telegraph Creek, March 8, 2013 (Robin Rowland)

Recommended Posts

BC ceremony Haisla Nation Kitamaat Village Kitimat news photo Photoblog Photography Reconciliation Sony RX10iii

Haisla Artists exhibit opening, May 10, 2024

The Kitimat Museum and Archives opened the Haisla Artists Indigenous Art Exhibition with a ceremony at the City Centre Mall in Kitimat on the evening of Friday, May 10, 2024. It is the first group show that features Haisla artists (there have been indvidual shows in the past). The opening at the mall featured photographs […]

Robin Rowland