From the Cannery Cradle: The Salmonids Are Swimming

Each year, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site turns into a temporary nursery to baby coho salmon, courtesy of the Little Campbell Hatchery, as part of the Salmonids in the Classroom program.  

Submitted by Senior Interpreter, Lina K.

After four weeks in the Cannery Cradle, the Coho eggs have hatched into alevin.  All 30 alevin have survived to this second stage of the salmon life cycle (as far as we can tell). Their tails are wiggling as they take in oxygen through their gills for the first time.

Alevin can move about, but have a large, orange sac attached to them. These yolk sacs are the remains of their eggs and provide protein, sugar, minerals, and vitamins. The alevin will depend on these sacs for 30-50 days until they become fry and start looking for food themselves. In the Cannery Cradle, the alevin will not have to be fed until they become fry.

In their natural river habitat, since their egg sacs are so bright, the alevin will hide in oxygen-rich spaces between gravel to avoid predators and silt. Pollution can also have a negative impact,  blocking the alevins’ gills or create an environment that helps blue-green algae release their toxins. To support salmon survival and keep the waters clean, be conscious of your environmental footprint – some ways you can help are keeping pets out of salmon spawning streams, picking up litter along rivers and shorelines, and safely disposing items like batteries and household chemicals.

Salmon are important species to the ecosystem, and ensuring a safe environment for them to grow is beneficial to other animals and to humans. Check out photos of the salmonids’ progress on the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society’s Instagram and Facebook pages.