I helped a fabulous group of people make many babies this week, baby salmon that is. The eggs in the cups in the photo are future Cultus sockeye salmon that will hopefully come back to Cultus Lake in four years to help rebuild this population and add their genes back into the proverbial pool.
Every summer a dedicated group of people collect returning adult salmon at the fence at Sweltzer Creek. Those precious fish are cared for, they are housed in a biosecure area behind a locked fence, which is behind another locked fence. They are provided with antibiotics to reduce disease incidence in their gametes, which provides some secondary benefit to them during the months they will be held while they mature fully, and they are given weekly surface treatments to protect them from fungal infections and reduce any external parasite load.
Then, starting in early November, they are checked weekly for maturity by a group of people, of which I am lucky to be one, for their readiness to spawn. The eggs and milt are collected, DNA records checked to ensure that brothers and sisters aren’t being crossed, the eggs are split (five ways here) and each fifth is fertilized with a separate male to maximise genetic diversity.
Each Tuesday we gather, in the rain, the cold, the fog, the snow, (and sometimes in the sun) and repeat this procedure until everyone has been spawned and the eggs are all put to bed in their incubators to develop over the winter before being moved to a quarantined facility at Inch Creek, where they are hatched, ponded, and reared to fry, before being transported back to Cultus Lake for release in the spring.
This program is one of the highlights of my year, every year.
Have I ever mentioned that I have an amazing job and work with even more amazing and incredibly dedicated people?
It took a long time to settle down and find the right “home”, but I’m so glad that things worked out and that I eventually found the right fit.
Better late than never.
118 Photos in 2018 – 22. I Made This