Title and statement of responsibility area
Underwater Photography of Salmon series
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1.2 m of textual records
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Scope and content
From 1959 to 1963 Dr. Derek Ellis conducted the first underwater observations by SCUBA diving on salmon activities. He dived in fishways, under waterfalls, in rapids, canyons, and in smooth water - both alongshore and in open water - to document how the activities of the salmon were adapted to the various river and lake habitats in which they found themselves during their life cycle. His observations spanned the age range of salmon from fry, through smolts to adults. At that time the emphasis on underwater photography was in the sea. Dr. Ellis used early SCUBA gear, and was introduced to diving by brothers Alex and Laurie McCracken, of Nanaimo, two of the first professional SCUBA divers on the west coast of Canada. He was employed by the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 1957-1963, who purchased his equipment and paid for his dive training at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, January 1959.
Dr. EIlis was the first Canadian biologist to use SCUBA techniques for ecological and behavioural studies of aquatic organisms, and after developing the observation and photographic techniques extended his salmon research in rivers and lakes to marine invertebrates of the BC coast. His research on the technical developments and his biological results were published in international scientific journals and government reports. His results essentially were that salmon follow environmentally defined pathways through river and lake habitats, hence their migrations through difficult river sections can be expedited by appropriate fishway design. Ellis's underwater photographs were taken by Rolleimarin Camera, with flash when needed. His 16 mm movies were taken by several different rented cameras. Dr. Ellis's work reflects the state of the art in underwater research and photography at the time. Some of his photographs were exhibited in the International Underwater Film Festivals during those years. Also, some of the cine footage was used by the National Film Board in their salmon documentaries.
Immediate source of acquisition
The Underwater Photography of Salmon series consists of project administration; reports and manuscripts; photographic logs; contact prints; photographs; project slides; negatives; moving images; maps and oversized prints.
The photographic images show the early development of underwater tecniques for research on the ecology and behaviour of aquatic orgamisms. The documents in the fonds (1957-1963) show the professional development of a young scientist (aged 27-33 years) in his first employment following completion of training to Ph.D. level.
The moving images are cine-film mostly taken 1959-1963, and are a mixture of underwater sequences of adult and juvenile salmon, plus above-surface shots of the same activities or the research locations. The above-surface sequences of adult salmon migrating upriver were taken for determination of salmon swimming speeds, and documentation of migratory behaviour particularly quantification of numbers taking various routes over the river bed. Most of the footage is from the Stamp and Sproat Rivers in the Alberni Valley, but one underwater sequence is of the Adams River sockeye salmon run in 1962 (I178, Film 41-F). There is one underwater marine sequence: of Dr. J.Strickland a chemical oceanographer, after whom the University's research vessel is named (Film H66, 34-F and 35-F). Some of the footage was taken in 1970 when Professor Ellis returned to the Robertson Creek fishway to undertake further research on salmon leaping behaviour at falling water.
Also included are copies of the salmon spawning movies taken by Dr. K.Groot of the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, (Films 51-F and 52 F), and given to Dr. Ellis for his teaching purposes. A series of 5 100 ft rolls of film and a video of the 500 ft of film are of marine sampling at the University of Victoria in about 1970. Professors Ellis and McInerney are shown, and also graduate student R. Dunnill.
Each box or can is labeled with the accession number (2000-079), the film number for the archives (xx-F), the box number (Photography boxes 3 or 4), has a reference to the photographic logs (F, G, H, I and J film series), and where relevant a reference to the descriptive notes of edited film (the Z notes). Z numbers are also on the cans of edited films, combined footage or work copies. The notes on Z numbers go only to Z38, but there are some numbered Z100 and above.
The film data is taken from the photographic logs and the can labels. The data has not been checked against the contents of each box. Most of the movies have probably been shot at 24 fps, although data analysis movies may have been individual exposures
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Films are labeled as originals or copies. Copies may be screened for viewing, but originals need copying before viewing.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Acc. No. 2000-079.