Sunday, October 21, 2012

Adventure 41- Puntledge Fish Hatchery

Coho and Natalie
We had another busy weekend. Natalie had a sleep over on Friday night at Hanna's house, I went hunting. No luck in that attempt for me. Then I went for a mushroom pick Saturday morning, with out very much success there either. Tough weekend for the hunter/gather. I still always am having fun and do not get frustrated, so it keeps me coming back for more. Today, as every weekend, I had some things to accomplish in the kitchen. No canning this week, but yesterday a big pot of chicken stock was percolating away in anticipation of a cauldron of borscht being assembled. Before this Natalie and I spent an hour outside playing with tools. After my interview last week on Edible Valley with my friend Arzeena, I got the bug for winter gardening. I decided that a cold house would be a good idea to help get some seeds to germinate. As I was assembling this project, I cut some boards for Natalie to play with, trying to drive nails with a hammer and sink screws with an impact driver. The cold house turned out quite well, and is a small scale model of the chicken coop I wish to build over the winter.
Diversion Weir
After our construction project we decided to head in to town to attend the open house at the Puntledge River Hatchery. Since we missed out with the hatchery last week it was a perfect opportunity. Looking at salmon is so interesting to me, and the life cycle. How incredible that they have to over come so much adversity to return to their natal streams to spawn. The hatchery has a mix of chinook, coho and chum salmon, plus some small cutthroat trout mixed in that follow the salmon around to feast on lose eggs. The pink salmon are already spawned and finished now so they are absent from the hatchery now.
Flying fish on the sorting table
Several community groups had booths set up around the hatchery. Tsolum River Restoration Society, Salmon Enhancement society and another group doing stream work on the Puntledge were in attendance to relay information to interested folks. We got to see inside the incubation room and some newly fertilized eggs. The hatchery has a piece of equipment that can automatically pick unfertilized eggs from a batch. What a time saver for the staff. Of course we wandered down to the viewing room to see the salmon swimming back and forth. The purple tiger striped chum, bright red coho and monstrous chinook. We also got to watch the hatchery staff sort the adult salmon. One guy was right down in the tank, corralling the fish into a large hydraulic brailer that would lift them onto the table so the species could be sorted. It was very interesting for the masses. We didn't get to witness an egg harvest, but I think that they were doing some during the event.
She caught the big one!
The fish hatchery program is vital to the strength of the salmon runs on the south coast. The amount of habitat destruction and alteration has not left the wild fish with enough healthy eco-systems to propagate on their own. Some rivers with out enhancement can keep decent runs, but many have a tough time, especially on the east coast. Habitat loss due to logging and development in the 60's and 70's have taken a toll. Fish are an important factor in the decision making of the government when allowing industrial, commercial and residential development. Our coast is under siege from industry that wishes to transport fossil fuels by sea from Alberta and mining operations close to the ocean. I see tough times ahead for our wild salmon and all other wild creatures in B.C. if these projects are allowed. The current federal government seems hell bent on getting these projects through. I just hope that they can be delayed long enough to have a change in government in the next election.
Shark fins
We may still have a few more salmon adventures under our belts this season. Once the salmon are gone, what will we do. The days are getting shorter and cooler. Natalie has requested an adventure on the bikes again. These last eleven could be the hardest or the easiest, I really can tell. Find Adventure.

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