SIDNEY — The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre (SODC) recently welcomed 200 tiny new visitors to the aquarium — 200 salmon smolt visitors, to be exact.
Continuing with their tradition of creating the least amount of impact during animal collection as possible, SODC Curator Paula Romagosa recently struck up a deal with Goldstream Hatchery to borrow some of their Chinook salmon to display in one of the aquarium’s exhibits, with a plan to release them into the ocean.
Having the ability to release the salmon once they’re fully grown is a new and exciting prospect for SODC.
“For a variety of reasons, we were not permitted to release our salmon in the past. Instead, we would donate those that had grown too large to Wild Arc,” said Romagosa.
“Now with this recently formed partnership with Goldstream, we’ll keep these salmon for only two or three years before releasing them into the ocean to continue on their journey to spawn.”
The not-for-profit aquarium is thrilled about this recent improvement to their salmon program, especially in light of recent statistics that show a dwindling number of Chinook spawning in the area over the last couple of years.
“Keeping the smolts here is a great way to ensure that they will grow to their full potential without falling victim to predators or disease,” said Romagosa.
And the release will be one of the easiest yet for the aquarium.
“We’ll basically be able to walk out our front door and release them right to the ocean off Sidney.”
The recently arrived smolts, who have taken nicely to their new digs at the aquarium, had about seven months to grow in the Goldstream Hatchery before making their move to Sidney.
The Hatchery uses water from Goldstream River to raise fry and smolts, and it is there that most of them will ultimately return.
“Salmon use their instincts to find their way back their river of origin,” said Romagosa.
“Their familiarity with the river from when they were young will lead them back.”
These adorable little smolts are now on full display at SODC from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Visit www.oceandiscovery.ca for more information.