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Incubating salmon eggs may make early entry to Oak Bay creek bed

Volunteers hustle to repair November damage to Bowker Creek

Incubating chum salmon eggs may be ready earlier than anticipated for planting in Bowker Creek.

Volunteers working to bring salmon stocks back to the waterway that runs through Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria created a new bed last year for the 30,000 eggs set to finish incubating there.

The bed was damaged during heavy rains in November, when the river flow grew to speeds that scattered the boulders and gravel used for the project.

READ ALSO: Out of the streambed gravel comes harbinger of waning pollution in Oak Bay creek

In December the Bowker Creek Society team responsible for salmon recovery in the stream visited the Goldstream Hatchery to be part of the egg take, society director Gerald Harris said. They learned from volunteers with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association, about harvesting eggs from female fish and milt (containing sperm) from male fish to fertilize and incubate in trays in the dark.

While the team learned the process on chinook salmon, chum salmon eggs were set aside to rejuvenate stocks in Bowker, where salmon haven’t swum in decades.

“The hatchery is telling us that the eggs are getting to just about the right stage to make the transfer,’’ Harris said.

With the eggs maturing quickly enough to be put in the water as early as the third week of January, volunteers will hustle to get the repairs done in the creek.

READ ALSO: Volunteers take advantage of heavy rainfall to measure Oak Bay creek flows

It’s been a hassle with the constant wet weather and correlating high water volume in the creek, Harris said. But the team is determined to be ready.

When the day comes, they’ll rely on the expertise of those with Peninsula Streams Society, who have helped with the project every step of the way.

The creek gets a second boost with fry (young fish) released by local students in the spring. For generations, students in B.C. have been incubating salmon in the classroom and taking field trips to local streams for release.

Approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, students from three Oak Bay schools will set their salmon free in the local waterway come spring.

READ ALSO: Friends of Bowker Creek to plant 30,000 salmon eggs in Oak Bay section

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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