The Great Salmon Run in Adams River BC

by Dr. Sharif Galal
October 21, 2014

Sockeye Salmon Sharif Galal ©

Since I was a little kid, I was always fascinated by nature and I knew about Canada from the nature documentaries before I moved and settled here. I still remember one of those shows about the great salmon migration.  It has always been a dream to watch the salmon run and this dream came true this year when my fellow (Ahmed ElWakil) and I decided to drive to Chase, BC to watch this great event last week.

Sockey Salmon Sharif Galal ©


We headed toward Broderick Haig-Brown Provisional Park which is about 6 hours driving from Calgary.

Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


Every four years , the banks of Adams river hosts one of the nature greatest events “As described by Sir David Attenborough” where millions of Sockeye Salmon migrates all the way from the pacific ocean where they have spent their adult life to reach their original home to complete the life cycle by spawn and die after.


Sockeye Salmon Sharif Galal ©


When the migration starts, the salmon is silver in color. This color changes to red when they reach their final destination, in addition to that, their heads turn pea green and the males develop large jaws and prominent teeth. Once they entered the fresh water, they don’t eat till they spawn and die. The trip takes about 17 days where they migrate about 500 km


Sockey Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


When we reached there, the river was almost crimson because of the significantly large number of salmon this year.



Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


After the long journey, the male`s jaw and teeth enlarges in order to fight other males who are venturing too close while his female digging the nest and lying on her side flapping her tail to drop her eggs. The place has to be clean, slit free gravels in moving water so the eggs will receive the necessary oxygen to survive. Eggs look pink-orange in color and the moment they laid, the male or some times more males, will release their sperms to fertilize the eggs. The process continues till they get exhausted and die.



Sockeye Salmon eggs by Sharif Galal ©


The eggs stay in the river bed until January when they start to hatch , by April , the small fish migrate to Shuswab lake where they remain to feed and grow till the following spring when they migrate to the pacific ocean.


Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


Sockeye salmon return every year to this place but every 4th year is considered a dominant year where the number of migrated salmon are much higher.


Dead Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


After laying eggs the salmon under programmed cell death and die.


Seagull and Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal ©


This Seagull was waiting for the moment they lay their eggs to eat some.


Sockey Salmon by Sharif Galal and Ahmed ElWakil ©


They die after several cycles of laying eggs


Sockeye Salmon by Sharif Galal and Ahmed ElWaki ©



Shairf Galal and Ahmed ElWakil at Adams river BC


Sharif Galal and friend Ahmed ElWakil



Euipment used:

Underwater camera : GoPro Hero 4
Other photos : Nikon D7100 and Nikkor 50mm 1.8 with CPL filter
Canon T3i with Canon 24-105



Dr. Sharif Galal is a medical doctor and a researcher of lung diseases at the University of Calgary. He received his M.D. from Egypt and his specialty degree in diving medicine from Stellenbosch University- South Africa in addition to a Master’s degree in biomedical sciences from university of Calgary.  Apart from medicine and research, Dr. Galal is an amateur underwater photographer, scuba diving instructor and an enthusiastic wildlife and nature advocate. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta and can be contacted at:


View previous articles by Dr. Galal

The Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa
Rocky Mountain Marmot

Links to additional resources

Map to Adams River from Calgary

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