VIDEO: Ucluelet hatchery hosts Adopt a Baby Salmon Day

“We’re getting the whole community involved with salmon enhancement and stewardship.”

Ucluelet’s Thornton Creek Hatchery welcomed the West Coast to its annual Adopt A Baby Salmon Day last weekend where thousands of chinook fry were released into the wild.

“Adopt A Baby Salmon Day is important because we’re getting the whole community involved with salmon enhancement and stewardship of this very important animal,” hatchery manager Dave Hurwitz said at the June 2 event. “If you look at the demographic that we have here today, there’s really a lot of young people here that are not on computers and they’re not playing video games; they’re enjoying nature and they’re helping to ensure that this iconic species will be around when they grow up.”

Hurwitz said the young fish were reared at the hatchery over the winter using a new approach designed to improve their survival rate by better preparing them to be wild. He credited Nitinat Hatchery manager Rob Brouwer for experimenting with various rearing strategies, including lower densities and more natural environments, that led to smarter and better prepared fry.

Hurwitz said the local hatchery’s rearing environments were infused with natural flora to make them more realistic and less sterile and he occasionally starved the fish to force them to learn natural eating habits with bugs and krill to ready them for the ocean hunting ahead of them.

“Instead of being in a tight ball, they spread out just like they would in nature and they’re hiding under the branches just like they would in nature,” he said. “There is some more research being done on this, but I’m really excited. It’s been a bit of extra work and experimentation and it’s showing results in very low mortalities and real healthy fish.”

Hurwitz said he also trained the young salmon to be wary of predators by using what he called a “stranger danger” technique where he would use a fake duck to mimic a predator.

“I scare them once a week with this pseudo merganser. I net some and put them into a bucket, like they’re in the penalty box, to get them thinking to be afraid of a real predator, instead of the white pail that most fish are afraid of in the hatchery,” he said. “It’s a bit of education. It may seem a bit goofy…But, this is building on some of the innate stuff that they need to survive in the wild.”

Just Posted

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation celebrates new water system

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna cuts cedar ribbon at Ty-Histanis event.

Ucluelet RCMP searching for alleged liquor thief

Police have released a photo of the woman and are asking for the public’s assistance.

Reflecting Spirit offers tapestry of West Coast stories

Gallery showcases Tofino and Ucluelet artists.

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Foul play not suspected in man’s death in Chemainus

Long attempt made to revive unidentified person on the dock

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Vehicle fire on the Coquihalla

Heavy congestion in north bound lanes

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Most Read