Salmon Hatchery Update

Shawnigan’s salmon hatchery is full of new life! Activity has ramped up recently as both coho and chum salmon have now matured from the alevin stage to the fry stage – making them ready to be “ponded” this week.
“This means that their yoke sac has been fully absorbed and they are ready to be fed,” explains Laura Robson, who heads up the hatchery program. “It also means they are ready to swim free (the yoke sac limits how they swim).”

Students from two 360 groups – fly tying and eco-ninjas – came together to help move the fry into their new homes. This process involves doing a final mortality pick, taking the mass of all the fish, and moving them from the hatching trays into the larger incubation tank.

“The total biomass must be calculated in order to determine feed load,” shares Laura Robson. “Too much food will just end up rotting and lowering the dissolved oxygen in the tanks. In addition to an automatic feeder, students will hand feed the salmon every day to ensure that all fry have access to food. Sometimes fry will learn where the feeder is and will hover and hog the food!”

The next step will be to clip the fins of as many of the coho as possible to mark them as hatchery fish. Later in April, the salmon will be released into Shawnigan Creek to begin the next stage of their journey!

Shawnigan Lake School is adhering to all COVID-19 guidelines released by the BC Ministries of Health and Education, including those regarding learning cohorts, physical distancing and mask-wearing when appropriate.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.