June 2013 Hatchery Update

All the chum have been released into the wild. The second batch was taken over to Schoolhouse South and hopefully made their way downstream.

Now that both large tubs are free of fish, we’ve filled them with… TULIPS! We still have a lot of bulbs to sell, so make sure to drop in between 9-11 AM Monday to Saturday to pick some up at $5 a bag!

Last year’s coho are still growing in the cap troughs, and the ones from the year before are swimming around in the pond outside (which we will be releasing this month). Since we harvest coho eggs from Noons Creek whenever the adults are ready, each brood year contains a discrepancy in age groups. Although the separate cohorts only differ by a number of days, the older ones grow faster.

Even though these photos have motion blur (because living fish tend to move), one is clearly larger than the other. Both are from the 2012 brood year, but the smaller fish is what we call a 'pinhead'.

These photos have motion blur (because living fish tend to move), but one coho is still clearly larger than the other. Both salmon are from the 2012 brood year.

By the time they reach the smolt stage in their life cycle, some salmon are much bigger than others. Genetics also play a role, as some fish are predisposed to be more competitive and grow faster than others. A sample we took of the pond coho resulted in weights ranging from 8.4 – 32.6 grams. The heaviest fish weighed almost four times as much as the lightest one!

2013 Fingerling Review – May 2013

Thank you to everyone who came out to release salmon while enjoying the sunshine and exhibits at our Fingerling Festival!

After being blessed by the Katzie First Nations and placed into buckets by our hard-working volunteers, nearly 40,000 chum salmon were carried down to Noons Creek in our youngster-powered bucket brigade for release.

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Thanks to all of our volunteers who handed out buckets and supervised children tipping them into the creek as well. We couldn’t have done it without you!

First Nations blessing of the salmon - FF2013

Some kids enjoyed watching their fingerlings swim off so much they returned several times to transfer more bucketfuls to Noons Creek. From there the little swimmers grouped into schools and started heading off to the ocean.

Child releasing salmon - FF2013                                   Fingerlings in Noons Creek

Most fingerlings have moved downriver by now, and will reside in the estuary while they switch their scales to smolt colouration. Once they become more silvery and adapt their camouflage to the ocean rather than the stream, they will swim out to the great big blue to grow. Hatcheries increase the survival rate of eggs, but once the fish are out in the open they are prone to predation by humans as well as birds, bigger fish, and marine mammals. As a result, approximately five percent of  the fish released will reach maturity, and around three percent will return to spawn in 3-5 years. See you later, chums!

Special thanks to all of our friends and supporters, including our Presenting Sponsors, the City of Port Moody, PCT and Port Metro Vancouver.

Fry Update – April 2013

As of this morning, all of our chum fry have been ponded – around 60,000 of them in total!

Ponding is a process of introducing swim-up fry to food once their yolk sacs have been absorbed. At this stage, their swim bladders should be developed so they can move up and down in the water column easily. Before ponding all of the fish, we test to see if a sample will rise to the surface when placed in a bucket. We then feed them a little bit of size zero feed, which is so small that it floats until they peck at it. Floating food elicits their inquisitiveness, and when they find out it’s edible they eat it all up! If it’s not to their liking though, they will spit it back out.

After determining that a particular batch of fish is ready by the above-outlined method of “pre-ponding”, we transfer trays of fish to a larger container. Our trays, troughs, and tubs all have flowing creek water to ensure the fish get enough oxygen and waste gets transported out of their living space. It also gives them a scent to hone in on for when they’re adults.

Salmon are special because they start off in streams, head to the ocean, and return to the same stream when they’re ready to breed. This makes them anadromous, like the three-spined stickleback that can also be found locally. Most aquatic animals live in either fresh water or salt water their entire lives because the two environments require vastly different mechanisms of managing internal salt concentrations. Switching between the two is quite taxing, and is one reason why returning adults can look tired and battered around spawning time.

When collecting eggs from female adults, we cannot force synchronous release. This is why our coho fry have varying age groups and different sizes. While most of the coho have also been ponded, today a single tray remains. These fish are nearly fry, but still barely alevins. That is to say, most of their yolk sacs have been absorbed. Temperature influences the speed of metabolism, so warmer water encourages them to “stitch up” faster. We call it this because yolk sacs shrink until they disappear into their belly. The resulting red line on their ventral side looks like a stitched gash becoming smaller and smaller.