Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery
Earlier this year many people worked together to capture adult sturgeon in the Nechako River and spawn them in the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre in Vanderhoof. The fertilized eggs incubated in water filled tubes for seven to nine days before hatching. After another two-weeks these newly hatched larvae use up the remainder of their yolk sacs and begin eating. The transition to solid food is a critical period for these tiny fish. At this stage they are very sensitive to disease and they do not begin feeding immediately they will starve within a few days; many of them do not survive. However, thanks to the efforts of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC staff who keep water temperature just right, the water flow just right, and who adhere to strict biosecurity controls to prevent disease outbreaks, there are now many thousands of young sturgeon growing quickly.
Once the fish are eating solid food their growth rate is high and some of them will double their weight every two weeks. That very fast growth rate will continue until about through the fall. Once the juvenile sturgeon reach 150 grams and about 20 cm long in the Conservation Centre, the temperature will be reduced which will slow down growth until the fish are released into the wild in the spring of 2016. The growth needs to be slowed down because if they grew that fast all winter there would not be enough room in the Conservation Centre for the expected 12,000 fish.
The Conservation Centre is a critical part of the plan to save the Nechako White Sturgeon. Young Nechako White sturgeon will be raised there each year while researchers find out what needs to be done to have a self-sustaining wild population. Nechako White Sturgeon would be in danger of extinction if it were not for the Conservation Centre.
As part of disease prevention measures, the Conservation Centre is closed to the general public until later in July. Guided tours will be hosted later this summer so everyone can get a chance to see the young sturgeon and can learn about how the facility operates. A tour schedule will be developed in the next few weeks. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Recovery Initiative or would like more information about educational opportunities please contact the Recovery Initiative by visiting www.nechakowhitesturgeon.org.