Gallery: Century-old sturgeon caught in the Nechako

Vanderhoof’s oldest living resident might just have been found this spring.

(From left) Ian Curtis and Dan Stanyer from FrontCounter BC

(From left) Ian Curtis and Dan Stanyer from FrontCounter BC



Vanderhoof’s oldest living resident might just have been found this spring.

Lured by fresh salmon, the mature female sturgeon, estimated to be 100 years old, was caught by the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative staff in late April.

Weighing 150 kilograms, the Nechako White sturgeon is one of the largest of the endangered species that the crew has seen so far, said Cory Williamson, hatchery manager of the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre.

Caught as part of the initiative’s annual broodstock capture program that started at the beginning of April this year, the female is now tagged with a radio transmitter for tracking, and will reside in the hatchery for two years — when she’s expected to produce eggs in 2018, Williamson explained.

Each spring before sturgeon spawn in the Nechako River, crews monitor reproductive adults — caught fish is measured and radio-tagged, and spawn-ready ones are kept for their eggs and sperm. This year, a total of 160 hooks on 11 lines were set along the Nechako River downstream of Burrard Bridge for the program, and the centre now has five males and five females with various expected spawn times.

Through an acoustic three-dimensional virtual positioning network of ping receivers installed along the river, NWSRI staff aims to understand why the sturgeon are spawning in certain locations.

“The river is big, not like a stream where you can turn over rocks,” Williamson said, adding that adults seem to favour turbulent flow, which may be caused by uneven river bottoms that allow eggs to settle and be hidden from predators.

By raising juvenile fish in the hatchery before they are released into the wild, NWSRI looks to increase their chances of survival and restore the endangered species’ population, which is believed by scientists to have decreased from over 5,000 to 300 in the last 50 years.

Female sturgeon spawn once every three to 10 years, while males can spawn every other year — dependent on fat reserves and their ability to find enough food, Williamson said.

“If they are older, it takes them longer to produce,” he said.

Fish are also injected with an antibiotic that stains an external point on its body, allowing staff to check the number of rings from the initial mark and gauge whether they are aging properly.

The majority of the Nechako white sturgeon’s current population is over 40 years old, which means that sturgeon are not spawning successfully or the youth are not surviving to adulthood. Adult sturgeon only start spawning when they are 20 to 40 years old.

Other current research projects on the sturgeon and its habitat include measuring larvae — baby sturgeon — to see how temperature affects their growth and development, and measuring how much water and sediment is moving down the Nechako.

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read