Bye-Bye Fry!

After 3 short months, we are happy to announce that 48 of our coho salmonids have been released into the wild. Our Visitor Services Manager, Andrea, took care while releasing them in the river at Little Campbell River Hatchery in Surrey, BC this Thursday morning.  

In early December, we initially started off with 55 eyed-eggs in a temperature-controlled tank that sat at the front lobby. We are incredibly thankful to have even been given the opportunity to raise these salmonids, as it was almost not possible. The hatchery was impacted by the November Fraser Valley floods, and lost power for 24 hours. This cut off the eggs’ required fresh, oxygenated water. Wild salmon are sensitive and are severely impacted by natural disasters!   

However, against all odds, these salmonids grew – fast! Before we knew it, they grew to the alevin stage. At this stage, they carry a little yolk sac on their stomachs for nutrients. As their bodies grew, their sacs became smaller, until they completely disappeared. They then became fry. Still small and with little to no ways of protecting themselves, they adapt by becoming camouflaged. They develop black stripes on their sides that help them blend in, called “parr marks.” Once they all became fry, however, they gained an appetite! And with food comes waste in the tank.  

This waste was the leading cause of us releasing them earlier than normal. We usually release fry mid-March; however, the ammonia levels of the tank’s water were becoming too high, even with regular cleaning. They were ready for release! 

Thursday morning was the perfect day to release them. With moderate temperatures and a sunny overcast, the fry were easily transported from the Cannery to the river. We kept a battery-operated air pump in the tank for the drive, as previously mentioned – salmonids can be extremely sensitive. Upon arrival, we slowly poured in some river water so they could become acclimatized to it. Then, by the cupful, we slowly released them into the river. It was a great sight to see!  

We would like to thank the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Salmonids in the Classroom program for allowing the Gulf of Georgia Cannery NHS to participate each year. We are grateful for the opportunity to educate our visitors, staff, and volunteers on the incredible life cycle of salmon, and to foster passion for this keystone species in our ecosystem!