Welcome to Bowen, chum!
An enthusiastic welcoming committee awaited the arrival of chum eggs at the Bowen Island Fish Hatchery last Friday, December 14. They were delivered by Rob Bell-Irving, DFO’s community advisor of the of the Sea to Sky Corridor and Lower Fraser ecosystem management branch, who rushed here from the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery in Brackendale to deliver a delicate cargo: 200,000 chum eggs.
Waiting for him were members of the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club who were happy to lend a hand and listen to what Bell-Irving had to say. Among the helpers was Tim Pardee, president of the Fish and Wildlife Club. “Friday was a fantastic day. Receiving over 200,000 chum eggs was the highlight, of course, especially since we did not receive any chum eggs the prior two years,” Pardee said.
The chum eggs arriving on Bowen were at the beginning of the second stage of development and had become “eyed.” They had been carefully transported in six big coolers to keep them at the right temperature. Bell-Irving then proceeded to scoop them from the cooler with a net.
Any eggs that were inadvertently spilled onto the floor were quickly picked up and returned to their rightful place. From the net, Bell-Irving transferred the eggs to a container that he used for pouring them into trays that pull out like drawers from a metal frame.
The uppermost tray stays empty as water is constantly fed into the system from the top and silt collects there.
The dedication and time commitment of the volunteers of the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club make it possible to check on the condition of the water every day and Bell-Irving made it clear that this level of engagement has led to a good return of hatchery stock.
Hand-carved signs on top of the trays signaled that the chum are the first to arrive.
“It has not been confirmed how many coho eggs we’ll receive in January, but Rob is hopeful we’ll get 40,000 or 50,000,” Pardee said. “Coho have been returning to Squamish streams and we are closely monitoring Bowen streams. We have put the word out to people that if they see coho entering the lagoon to let us know.”
Pardee said that there is a chance that the Bowen Island Fish Hatchery will also receive pink salmon eggs but not until next fall.
To watch a video about the arrival of chum eggs on Bowen Island, please see https://vimeo.com/55682681.
With files from Joanne Raymont