Cold autumn rain and wind announce the arrival of an annual phenomenon that happens in the rushing waters of Diina the Deena River. This is the season when the Haida Fisheries staff return to the frigid river currents. Their faces redden with cold as they flop their bruised and beaten bodies over river rocks. While the journey is tiring, some mysterious instinct embedded within them drives them onward. Here among the schools of spawning taay.yii Coho, the Haida Fisheries staff-member is at home.
A Diina full river-system survey is a two-day endeavor. It is the last and most involved survey of Diina of the year. This final fish-count comes after five earlier section counts where fisheries staff hike along the shores of the river and its tributaries.
On the final day of counting, 14 people conduct a thorough review of the entire Diina river system by swimming the full length of its mainline and three tributaries. As they swim, they count the returning taay.yii which are at the peak of their run. On day one divers swim the Diina’s tributaries. On day two they divide the Diina’s main 15-kilometre stretch into four sections
When they spot a taay.yii with tags, fisheries staff can determine how long it has survived in the river. They combine this information with previously taken scale-samples and fish sizes. The resulting data about survival-rates, ages, sizes and quantities provide a picture of the rivers health compared to previous years. In addition, fisheries staff walk the full length of neighbouring creeks and river systems to ensure restoration efforts have been effective, to count returning táay.yii and to maintain each watercourse’s integrity.
Once the full river system swim is completed, the divers clamber out of the river. They pack up their gear, heave it onto their backs and hike down the riverbank and through the forest to their vehicles that await them on the roadside. They will return again next year when the cycle will continue.