Mother Nature designs each species to fit perfectly within its own environment. The Chilko Sockeye Salmon have developed a few characteristics that are directly related to their difficult journey to and from Chilko Lake. First off, they have extra fat. This is to ensure that they have enough fat reserves to make it from the ocean to Chilko Lake, not an easy trip. The Chilko Sockeye must first make it through the commercial fishing nets on the coast of British Columbia, and then they must journey more than 650 kilometers upstream, and climb 3850 feet in elevation. Throughout their journey they must travel through Hell’s Gate, an area where the Fraser River plunges into a passage only 35 meters wide. They have to fight off fishing nets, dip nets, gaff hooks, fishing hooks and grizzly bears in order to arrive to the sanctuary of their spawning grounds, home, sweet, home, Chilko River and Chilko Lake.
Eliason and her colleagues at University of British Columbia studied eight populations of the adult Fraser River sockeye and found that populations with the most difficult migrations were more athletic, displaying superior swimming ability and specialized heart adaptations. Wow, it’s amazing what exercise can do. The research has shown the Chilko Sockeye to be considered the Super-Fish… Go, Chilko, Go! “I like to call the Chilko population of sockeye ‘Super-fish,'” said Eliason, who explained they are conditioned by a migratory route that is extraordinarily difficult.