Fish and Aquatic Species
Research has established that BC is home to a diverse array of fish, with nearly 500 different species inhabiting the province's streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
While BC's coastal waters are home to a larger number of fish species, the 67 native and approximately 15 introduced species of freshwater fish demonstrate a considerable range of diversity in their own right. A significant number of these fish are endemic to BC, they occur nowhere else on earth. Some of these species live in heavily developed areas of the province and may be at risk of extinction as a consequence as human activities and other factors, including climate change, impacting their habitat.
BC fish species also exhibit a broad range of life cycles including the well known anadromous salmon that are hatched in freshwater, migrate to the ocean and grow to maturity before returning to the very streams where they themselves were hatched, to spawn and die. Other species, including Steelhead Trout and Arctic Grayling, may repeat this cycles a number of times before Other fish species may spend different periods of their lives in both salt and freshwater.
BC's rugged topography of the province has resulted in many populations living in isolation from one another and consequently developing unique genetic profiles. It is believed that in the case of trout and salmon, these unique populations may number in the thousands. In an interesting evolutionary twist, some formerly anadromous subspecies now spend their entire life cycles in fresh water (ex. the kokanee subspecies of sockeye salmon) rather than migrating to the ocean.