September brings with it fascinating cycles of nature that you can learn about and enjoy in Kelowna. Among them is the Kokanee Salmon spawning cycle taking place in the Mission Creek. While you can certainly watch the Kokanee spawn from any of the entrances to the Mission Creek in Kelowna, the Springfield entrance where the Environmental Education Centre of the Okanagan (EECO) is particularly enlightening.
The EECO is a fantastic resource for locals and visitors. For instance, let’s say you have relatives in town with curious kids. Did you know that you can head to the EECO (located on Springfield Road, at the intersection of Leckie Rd) and take part in interpretive programs designed to teach people of all ages about Kokanee salmon? There is a Park Interpreter available daily from noon to 4 pm at both the Mission Creek by the EECO and at Hardy Falls, who can bring the world of Kokanee Salmon to you and your family – and all for free. Inside the EECO there is an exhibit about Kokanee including a simulated spawning channel. Learn more about the challenges and obstacles these fish face throughout their lives. All these interesting education exhibits and programs are free of charge.
You can learn all kinds of things about Kokanee from a Park Interpreter. For instance, Kokanee salmon are a relative of Sockeye salmon. Also, most of the Kokanee you’ll see in the Mission Creek are from 3 to 5 years old, and each year brings different physical characteristics with it. Also, there are different kinds of spawning salmon: shore spawners and fish that swim up the creeks. Kokanee salmon spawning season is from late August to early October, when mature salmon leave Okanagan Lake and swim upstream to lay their eggs. Once they've spawned, adult Kokanee completes their life cycle so that the next generation can start their journey. The Kokanee salmon eggs will lay in stream rock beds over the winter, hatching in the early spring. Later in the spring the Kokanee fry will swim downstream to Okanagan Lake in search of food. They'll remain in Okanagan Lake for the next three to four years, until it's their turn to swim upstream and spawn.
Among other great educational benefits, this program allows people may come away with some new perspectives on how our environment is different now for the fish than it was years ago, as well as how each one of us can impact our environment in positive ways.
(Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Kelowna)
The sun sets at Mission Creek Greenway in Kelowna. This is a great time to visit the Mission Creek and watch Kokanee Salmon spawning in the creek.
Be sure to check into the EECO regularly for the new exhibits that they present, or simply to walk through their display gardens behind the centre: the Xeriscape Garden and the Compost Garden. It’s amazing what you can learn by spending some time at the EECO Centre in Kelowna.