The Nile Creek Enhancement Society has picked up its annual batch of approximately one million pink salmon eggs to raise and release.
Since 1996, the society annually collects the salmon eggs from the Quinsam River near Campbell River in late September or October. The eggs are then kept at the Nile Creek Hatchery in tanks until they have matured enough to move to Nile Creek, which typically takes about five to six weeks.
When the eggs arrive at the hatchery, they are disinfected to eliminate any possibility of transferring diseases.
Once the eggs hatch in the tanks, they are referred to as alevin and live from their yoke sac until late March or early April. At this time, they have matured into fry and are about 2.5 centimetres long.
Hatchery workers then transfer the salmon from the tanks to a small pond where they can make their way into Nile Creek.
“Then they go off for two years… nobody really knows to where… and two years later they come back and spawn,” said Jack Gillen, hatchery president.
According to data from Gillen, in the hatchery, about 95 per cent of the eggs will hatch and be released as fry while in the wild, only about one per cent will hatch and make it to the estuary.
Approximately one to 1.5 per cent of the salmon will return as adults to spawn in two years, the majority being lost to predators, disease and fishing.
Gillen’s data states that without the hatchery, Nile Creek would not be able to produce enough returning adult fish to sustain in the current run. It also provides the beach fishery during late summer that brings fishers into the area.