Setting the hook: Identifying the next generation of salmon advocates
Powell River Salmon Society hosts annual Salmon Education Expo with in-person and online learning, livestreaming of salmon egg hatching
With creeks and rivers spread out like veins throughout the province, British Columbians are treated each year to one of nature’s most spectacular migrations—the salmon run!
Starting in late September or early October, millions of Pacific salmon make their way upstream to return home, release their spawn, and ultimately complete their lifecycle—a poetic end to ensure the survival and continuity of their species.
Coinciding with this annual salmon run, the Powell River Salmon Society (PRSS) hosts an annual Salmon Education Expo. This five-day event at Lang Creek, Powell River, located on the northern Sunshine Coast, BC, aims to teach children about the importance of salmon and its life cycle.
The PRSS was established in 1982 to ensure the sustainability of salmon stocks through its hatcheries. The team collects spawning salmon, retrieves and fertilizes their eggs, and then incubates the eggs in their hatcheries. Once they have developed into baby salmon (called fry), they release them back in their local watersheds.
From Oct. 16 to 19, more than 650 students are expected to visit the PRSS hatchery for an up-close encounter with the salmon at the Salmon Education Expo. They will explore various stations to identify and differentiate the types of Pacific salmon, understand their life cycle, and appreciate the crucial role they play in our ecosystem.
“It’s one class after the other going through a series of stations, showing the salmon live and being sorted based on its species. They can even touch them. Then, they go to an egg-take area, where we collect and count the eggs. After that, they visit a station where a local volunteer dissects a fish to show its biology, and then goes under a microscope to examine its scales,” says Philip Nakatsu, Assistant Manager of PRSS.
The Salmon Education Expo will also have an Open House on Oct. 21, welcoming everyone to visit and learn more about BC salmon.
For those unable to attend, the organization has developed an online education platform for everyone to access from the comfort of their own homes or classrooms. Salmoneducation.org provides online modules designed for kids of all ages.
And the best part? This Oct. 31, a live stream of the salmon eggs, spawned from the river, will be available on the website, allowing viewers to witness their hatching and development into salmon fry in real time.
Enbridge is committed to supporting environmental stewardship, energy conservation and awareness.
“During the first round of spawning, the water’s warm so the salmon eggs grow really fast. You’ll start to see them wiggling inside, and then the eggs will break open and you’ll see them come out. They’ll be tiny fish with egg sacks, called alevin, and then you’ll see them develop into salmon fry,” Nakatsu excitedly explains.
There are a number of resources available for educators to use in their own classrooms, complete with pictures and videos. The PRSS also developed their salmoneducation.org website in collaboration with an Indigenous educator, dedicating a page for learning the traditional salmon language used by different Indigenous groups.
Enbridge, through its Fueling Futures program, has contributed $5,000 to support the organization’s salmon education program. This is part of our commitment to support environmental stewardship and awareness in our communities.
For more than 40 years, the PRSS has been successfully working to preserve salmon stocks in the Salish Sea through their three hatcheries by the Powell River. Every year, over a million salmon fry are released back to the creeks, where they begin their journey to the ocean and grow.
“In order to have a sustainable salmon stock, we have to give the fish a head start in our hatcheries. We put them back when they’re ready, giving them a boost until they pass their most vulnerable stage,” says Nakatsu.
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