What’s the biggest salmon you’ve ever seen? How about one over 40 pounds with massive red roe the size of marbles?
For people who live near Wannock River off B.C.’s central coast, massive salmon are a common sighting, according to this new video released by the Youtube channel Great Bear Tales, which shows off some of the largest Chinook salmon in the world.
In fact, if a 40-pound or larger salmon is caught from Alaska to California, there is a “90% chance it’s from the Wannock or the Kitsumkalum river,” the video explains.
The massive fish are dependent upon the local Percy Walkus Hatchery in Wuikinuxv Village, Rivers Inlet, which ensures the survival of the salmon fry.
Each spring, community members release fry into the Wannock River. The fry are raised in large tanks and then transferred via nets to garbage pails. The oxygenated pails are driven down to the river. Then, the fry are released into the water after a prayer from an elder of the Wuikinuxv First Nation.
Volunteer Dawson Raden says in the video, “All of a sudden we are standing there next to these big tubs, and there’s countless Chinook salmon. I was in awe. This is nuts. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The hatchery is part of the federal government’s Salmonid Enhancement Program, which “aim[s] to rebuild vulnerable salmon stocks, provide harvest opportunities, work with First Nations and coastal communities in economic development, and improve fish habitat to sustain salmon populations.” The Wuikinuxv First Nation have established and operated similar hatcheries on their territory since 1935.
For more on this topic, check out our exclusive interview with Chief Danielle Shaw of the Wuikinuxv First Nation on how recent collapses in salmon runs have affected her community, and what she thinks can be done to protect and rebuild stocks.