The job requires a firm, yet gentle grip.
About 100 students from elementary schools in Revelstoke and Nakusp Secondary School learned what it feels like to hold a writhing, bony juvenile sturgeon in their hands for a brief moment.
They were at Shelter Bay, transferring the juvenile fish from buckets into the Upper Arrow Lake reservoir on Tuesday, May 9.
This year marked the fifth year that BC Hydro, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. with the Revelstoke Rod and Gun Club hosted a release event downstream of Revelstoke Dam. A total of 7,500 ten-month old juvenile white sturgeon raised from eggs collected from wild white sturgeon were released during the event to help recover Columbia River white sturgeon populations.
White sturgeon are North America’s largest and longest-lived freshwater fish, reaching a maximum size of six metres (19 feet) and 682 kilograms (1,500 pounds). It is estimated that white sturgeon life expectancy can exceed more than a century. Current population estimates show that within the Canadian portion of the upper Columbia River basin approximately 50 adults reside in the Arrow Lakes Reservoir, with an additional 1,500 wild fish downstream of Hugh Keenlyside Dam in Castlegar. Researchers have recorded spawning, but have found very few young fish, indicating that few young sturgeon are surviving to adulthood.
BC Hydro is working in cooperation with federal and provincial government partners through the Upper Columbia White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative to help restore Columbia River white sturgeon populations through long-term monitoring programs and projects. Movements of radio-tagged juvenile white sturgeon will be monitored with an acoustic array downstream of Revelstoke dam to determine how they use the reservoir as it changes through the seasons. BC Hydro is also conducting habitat studies near Revelstoke Dam and working on an preliminary assessment of Kinbasket Reservoir to determine if the development of a white sturgeon conservation aquaculture strategy there is feasible.
Photo: A 10-month-old juvenile sturgeon about to be released at Shelter Bay on May 9.
~With passages from BC Hydro