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The ingenious ancient technology concealed in the shallows

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  1. petrichor

    Suddenly, those individual nubs of Douglas fir and western red cedar became 900 little black points on a field of white—like a photographic negative of stars in the nighttime sky. Patterns began to emerge and repeat. It took months of analysis, she says, before she began to realize what they represented—the remains of an immense, highly coordinated, and sophisticated fish trap system, the largest such system discovered in North America, if not the world.

    Think Hotel California for fish—they can easily check in, but they can never leave. Such is the purpose of fish traps, ingenious systems for catching wild fish and practicing fishery management the world over. Fish weirs, like the ones that appeared in Comox Harbour, are a specific kind of fish trap built as an obstruction across a river or tidal waters. Fish seeking shallows, or spawning grounds farther upstream, swim in with the tide and can’t escape. The ancient technology relied on a deep and intimate knowledge of local fish behavior.

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