Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salmon Egg Take At Kingfisher Interpretative Centre

Approximately 120 people joined the egg take on October 8TH 2011 hosted by the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre. We started out about 400m down the road from the Centre. They had a selection of hip waders and float vests for people that needed them. The smallest size was 7, the kids were too cute as they waddled along the beach in the large hip waders. After signing wavers we were taken to the other side of the beautiful Shuswap River in aluminum boats. Anyone without proper gear was carried from the boat to dry rocky shore, or went bare foot.

Cody Lewis and Hanna Brooks, Hanna is Neil Brooks daughter so she has been doing the  egg take for and long time. Cody started in school caring for the eggs and this is his fourth time with the egg take. 
It was a diverse group of people, of all ages, students from Kal Secondary Students With Out Boarders. and Harwood elementary. Visitors from Alberta, families and some old hand seasoned egg takers. The woman running the boat for passengers was Nicole Troughton, she started at age 4, she now has her Masters in Marine Biology.

A net was set from a boat, it took two teams of people. The first team held the net on shore as the boat moved down river letting out the net. A rope was thrown from the boat to the second team and they pulled it in. The trick was to keep the floats high and the bottom weighted line low. This was done three times.

After accessing the sex, and viability of each fish they were taken to their designated places or let go. The males were taken to a water pen were they were milked for their milt(sperm). The females were taken to be weighed, measured and have their eggs removed. After spawning salmon die, they live to be about four years old. It was not easy for me to watch as the females were bashed over the head and their gills sliced to bleed them. If they aren't bled the blood would contaminate the eggs.

It was a slow process getting everybody back across the river, so we could go to the Centre and mix the egg and milt with water and place them in the hatcheries. Most of the eggs are kept at the hatchery but some of the schools will each get 30 eggs at the eye stage to care for. The Centre is educating people on how to be good stewards of the river. Thirty years ago when this program stared the river was dying and few fish were surviving. Neil Brooks who has been with the Centre from the beginning was pleased with the number of fish caught today.

Fourteen females were caught one didn't have enough eggs and another one was green her eggs were not ripe. The biggest female caught was 18 ½ lbs and 97 cm long.

You can learn more about the Center by visiting their web site at

Rummaging through the hip waders. 

The boats arrive, one with the net and the other to ferry people back and forth.

Waiting in turn, the supplies go first.

Neil Brooks explains how to us a tailer. A yellow piece of rope with loops on either end that wraps around the fish tail so you can hang it. I kept hearing people calling for Taylor thinking there were a lot of Taylor's on the beach.

The exoskeleton of an insect.

Setting out the net

Pulling in the net.

Jaki Meeks bringing in the fish.

Egg among the rock.

The net leads your eye to the cage the males were taken too for milting.

Females as they are bleed out, measured and weighed. 

Milting the males.

Capturing the eggs.

Emma Miller from Vernon in her size 7 hip waders.

Remnants of the small beating heart that Brooke Meeks held in her hand.  The heart was cooking on the fire and was later eaten by a young man, to the grossness of Brooke.

Two teams pulling in the net.

Torrie Nickoles

Another treasure found on the rocky beach, turtle shell.

Neil Fowler weighing fish with Hanna Brooks

Gathering around the male cage.

Salmon roe waiting to be taken to the hatchery.

Neil Brooks helping young Kendra Jones-Munk capture eggs.Kendra was there with Harwood Elementary. The schools have been taking taking part for about 20 years.

group shot.

Emma mixing the egg and the milt of two males.

Milt it does look like milk.

And then the magic of water.

Torrie Nickoles, Julie Leroux, Keenan Carey counting and measuring the eggs.

The hatchery were the magic happens.

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