King-of-the-salmon that washed up on Gonzales Bay. (Emily Walsh photo)

King-of-the-salmon that washed up on Gonzales Bay. (Emily Walsh photo)

September 2017: Rare king-of-the-salmon washes ashore in Oak Bay

Rescued squirrel re-released by Wild ARC

One of the most-read stories in 2017 came along in September when a rare king-of-the-salmon washed up on an Oak Bay beach. The strange sea creature was spotted on Rattenbury Beach and identified online by an Island biologist.

The unique name of the king-of-the-salmon originates from Makah First Nation legend, in which the fish (Trachiptreus altivelis) was believed to be the “king” that would lead salmon back to their rivers to spawn, noted Jackie Hildering, a biologist and marine educator, who goes by the handle of The Marine Detective on her blog.

A week later a woman out walking her dog spotted a second king-of-the-salmon in Oak BAy along Gonzales Bay.

At the end of August, as Oak Bay resident Peter Wheaton was on his walk to work, he heard the cries of a baby squirrel in distress. The little guy had been attacked by crows. Wheaton picked him up and took him to his office where he called an animal emergency hospital.

While waiting for a ride to Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC), the squirrel affectionately became known in the office as ‘Rocky’.

At the time he was admitted to Wild ARC to begin his recovery, he was so young that his eyes were still closed. As he grew and became stronger, Wild ARC offered a number of natural food items in ways that would encourage him to forage, helping him prepare for a life in the wild. He also shared his enclosure with other young squirrels he could interact with and learn from.

After two months in care, Rocky was released back into the wild.