The observation for this post is in regards to the return of wildlife, specifically aquatic species, to a creek in the Capital Region District (CRD) of Vancouver Island which have not been observed for over half a century(Victoria International Airport Autority,2020). The observations which have been made in the 635 ha TenTen Creek watershed (Figure 1) in the North Saanich area of the CRD is regarding the return of Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) and Stickleback (Gasterosteus spp.).
The landscape that makes up the TenTen Creek watershed has been heavily modified by human activities and is comprised of mostly agricultural land and industrialised (airport) land (CRD,2014). These fish species were observed by a local non-profit habitat conservation group in the summer of 2019 in the area of the watershed that is owned by the Victoria Airport (YYJ) authority. This is abnormal because although this is historical natural habitat for these fish species, there has been heavy alteration due to human activities which include, agriculture, solid waste dumping and the building of an airport and its associated roadways( Victoria International Airport Authority, 2020)
Coldwater fish species are extremely sensitive to changes in spawning habitat due to physical landscape alterations (Burnett et al. 2007). These alterations can include but are not limited to; logging, roadway construction, channelization, agriculture, and introduction of invasive species (Trombulak, Frissell, 2000). In addition to these changes in physical characteristics of salmon spawning grounds changes in climatic and weather patterns can also have a detrimental effect on the salmon reproduction and general habitat preferences due to changes in thermal regimes (Fullerton et al. 2017). Changes and alterations to natural landscapes, and the observations made by scientists, regarding spawning and other lifecycle process has created the need for conservation groups, both governmental and non-profit, to attempt to rehabilitate areas of concern that have been identified (Whiteway et al. 2010).
It can be hypothesized that the change to habitat for these salmon species had previously been altered in a way that was detrimental to all stages of growth of the species. The watershed has undergone extensive rehabilitation work (Victoria International Airport Authority ,2020) in attempt to recreate, modify and re-establish habitat for aquatic and riparian habitat in the last 10 years which seems to have had a beneficial effect on the ecosystem.
Our connection with the biosphere manifests in many ways, and as a species we have the unique opportunity to observe detrimental changes and attempt to remedy these changes in many ways. With the degradation of habitat due to human activities we have seen the population collapse of many types of aquatic species. Observations, such as the one described in this report, of the return of fish and other aquatic species to native habitat facilitated by successful recreation of aquatic habitat, offers some hope to creating a more sustainable world where human activities can occur in conjunctions with a functioning natural landscape. Though this case may seem like a drop in the bucket of sustainable infrastructure, this type of rehabilitation work can be carried out at a larger scale offering a bastion of hope for species to coexist in our biosphere.