Salmon seek warm water for spawning

The migration of the Western Australian Salmon (Arripis truttaceus) draw crowds in their thousands to Australia’s south-west corner every year. Although not as delicious as the mouth-watering pink fleshed Atlantic salmon (Salmo solar), and not at all related, the Aussie salmon sure is good fun to fish! More closely related to herring or tommy ruff, anglers enjoy fishing for these fighters right from the beach where fish will often take to the air and run hard out to see once hooked. The fish are also sought out by commercial fisherman, with some licensee’s historically catching over 2,500 tonne of fish per year.

 

Salmon fisherman

A Salmon fisherman from the south coast (Photo: ABC Rural – Tyne logan)

The fish begin to arrive in mid-March and tend to stay around all through April after migrating along Australia’s south coast from as far as Victoria and even Tasmania. Adult fish form large schools along exposed beaches and rocky reefs. Western Australian Salmon can grow up to one meter in length and can reach a whopping 9kgs. Mostly, they feed on bait fish and they are eaten by sharks, seals, dolphins and of corse, people.

A school of Western Australian Salmon under water

An underwater shot of the Western Australian Salmon (Photo: WA Museum – Barry Hutchins)

They make their journey west to take advantage of the Leeuwin Current, which runs from north to south along the Australia’s west coast, around Cape Leeuwin and then eastward along the south coast. Teamed with the offshore winds, these conditions are perfect for the fish to spawn.

A school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

An uninterrupted school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

Eggs and newly hatched fish are carried in the Leeuwin Current and settle along the south coast between South Australia and Tasmania where they mature for three to four years before moving westward to live in schools around Hopetoun and Esperance. This is where most of the schools we see along the Cape to Cape Track head home to after their visit to the Ngari Cape Marine Park to spawn.

School of Australian salmon at Contos

An enormous ball of salmon spotted from Contos Cliffs

Connection to Country Confirmed

Last week Nature published the first findings from the Aboriginal Heritage Project, which aims to build the first genetic map of Aboriginal Australia and help indigenous Australians trace their ancestry and family history. Analysing DNA in samples of hair has revealed that since their initial arrival in Australia around 58,000 years ago, communities of Aboriginal people have remarkably remainded in the same regions across the continent.

Studying the mitochondrial DNA from over 111 Aboriginal hair samples collected from across Australia between the 1920’s and 1970’s has uncovered that all Australian Aboriginal’s living today are decedents of the first population to arrive in the country and  over 1,500 to 2,000 years, groups of people spread across the land to both east and west coasts before eventually meeting in South Australia. Mitochondrial DNA is often used to trace maternal ancestry and map out ancient linages from deteriorated samples.

Field stations visited between 1928 and 1965, indicating sites where hair samples were provided.

Field stations visited between 1928 and 1965, indicating sites where hair samples were provided.

“These findings confirm what the Aboriginal community have known all along – that their deep ties with country stretch back thousands of years,” said Dr Raymond Todler, co-author of the study from the University of Adelaide. The study confirms that there is a real deep connection between Aboriginal people and country that has developed over thousands of years.

Splendid July School Holidays

This July school holidays have been the busiest yet at Cape to Cape Explorer Tours! Even though we have had some wet and windy weather in the Margaret River Region, we’ve been out and about on the Track and underground.

Low family exploring Calgardup Cave

The Loh family explorer the underground wonders of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge in Calgardup Cave.

The Loh family joined us last week for a Sunset, Forest and Cave Explorer Tour through the southern end of the Cape’s region. Although the rain was heavy outside, once we made our way down the steps and underground into Calgardup Cave our soggy thoughts were long forgotten. Escaping the Singaporean heat to visit Margaret River in the winter months has been a very popular choice for families from South East Asia. The Loh family used the holiday as a reunion as their youngest daughter Jaz is currently studying in England and their daughter Jana has recently been in Sydney completing her tertiary education.

Rainbow the Mehta family at Wydup Rocks

The Mehta family enjoying a rainbow mid-hike above Wyadup Rocks.

The Mehta family also joined us for a full day of hiking from Smiths Beach to Moses Rock. Although a few showers graced us throughout the day, we were lucky enough to experience lots of fantastic rainbows after each downpour. Living in New South Wales, the family are often very busy after school and on weekends with sporting commitments. The families favourites include soccer and cricket, whilst sun Anish also likes to surf when conditions are right.

The kids enjoying a hike in Nannup

Youth from Nannup, Margaret River, Manjimup, Pemberton and Northcliffe hiking the Timberline Trail in Barrabup.

To finish off the holidays, we spent two days out in the bush with youth from Margaret River, Northcliffe, Pemberton, Manjimup and Nannup for a Bush Survival Camp funded by the Local Drug Action Group. Camping at Workers Pool in Nannup was a great experience! We pushed on through some pretty extreme weather with the temperature dropping to -2.5 degrees on Wednesday night and over 75mm of rain overnight on Thursday and through pack up on Friday morning. The kids aged from 12-17 years old showed amazing amounts of leadership as they shared the responsibilities in the kitchen and around the camp fire. They were also incredibly respectful to all the supervisors, camp visitors and each other.

Overall, we’ve had a fantastic school holidays here at Cape to Cape Explorer Tours full of fun and adventure. If you are visiting Margaret River next holidays with the family why not try one of our day tours? We can also organise a customised trip for you and your family to help you reconnect with nature and learn a little bit more about the true nature of this amazing region.