The Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative’s (NWSRI) Save our Sturgeon (SOS) Spring Spawning Celebration was a resounding success with approximately 300 people in attendance at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof on May 29, 2011. The event date coincided with the timing of the natural sturgeon spawn and was complemented by a beautiful, sunny day. The only recorded Nechako white sturgeon spawning grounds occur in the river surrounding Riverside Park and sturgeon spawning in the reach normally takes place during the last week of May through the first week of June, when the water typically reaches the appropriate temperature.
The celebration was welcomed by Vanderhoof’s Mayor, Gerry Thiessen, Saik’uz First Nation’s Chief, Jackie Thomas, and NWSRI Community Working Group Chair, Brian Frenkel.
Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation welcomes participants.
One of three display tents at the SOS Celebration.
The Stoney Creek dancers performed traditional First Nation dances.
Participants of all ages were also treated to engaging and fun-filled activities that focused on the biology, ecology and research of sturgeon within the watershed. NWSRI biologists and working group members provided demonstrations on how sturgeon are radio-tracked, examples of sturgeon food obtained from the Nechako River, and sturgeon life cycle displays. There was a sturgeon biology table where the special features of the Nechako white sturgeon were discussed as well as an educational talk. Educational talks focused on the sturgeon’s status, the need for conservation, special biological features of the sturgeon, and research projects planned for this year.
Roy Argue of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and NWSRI Community Working Group Member, treats participants to an educational talk.
A 20 minute video played throughout the event featuring NWSRI’s Spawning Habitat Gravel Placement Research Project, and showcased sturgeon capture, tagging, and radio-tracking as well as interviews with research biologists. Participants were also treated to an interpretive walk around the sturgeon spawning grounds that finished at the bridge where they looked for spawning sturgeon from key locations. Children could also enjoy face painting, sturgeon colouring sheets, a sturgeon banner competition, and a bouncy castle. A barbeque served up free hotdogs and hamburgers.
Children watching the NWSRI sturgeon video produced by Ty Roberts, CNC.
Henry Klassen, NWSRI Community Working Group member, and Kevin Gedling (Parks Canada & NWSRI CWG member), leading a group of participants during an interpretive walk focusing on the importance of the Nechako River's spawning grounds to sturgeon.
The highlight of the celebration was the release of three male sturgeon back into the Nechako River. The releases allowed participants to view, and some were even able to touch, this magnificent fish that lives within their river system!
A large crowd gathered at the edge of the Nechako River to watch the release.
One of the three sturgeon being released at the event makes its way to the river.
The crowd gets a good view of this male sturgeon prior to his release.
Some lucky children get to touch the sturgeon before he swims away.
The focus of the SOS Spring Spawning Celebration was to increase the public’s awareness regarding the decline of the Nechako white sturgeon population, habitat loss, and recovery activities in order to promote the stewardship of sturgeon throughout the watershed. We sincerely thank our sponsors for making this event such as success! This event was sponsored by the Resources North Association, Integris Credit Union, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, the District of Vanderhoof, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, and the College of New Caledonia.