Tag Archives: thoughts

Dispatches from the Field: Eggs-traodinary Fieldwork

I shared my field escapades on a blog hailing from my alma-mater – Queen’s University! Check out my post here.

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New Moon in Fall (Or, Delusional Ramblings of an Exhausted Fish Biologist)

It’s the culmination, your final burst of adrenaline, the last ounce of strength left in your body. You’ve spent the past month stalking, hunting, chasing the king of fish on their migration homeward to spawn. Your discarded wetsuit lies crumpled in the back of the truck, still chilled from your meagre and hypothermic attempts that week. The emotional rollercoaster of disappointment and hope has come to a screeching halt at a sweet mix of joy and fatigue, and you’re kneeling in a river. It’s pitch-black, save for the light of a dying headlamp and the glow of a small campfire downstream. You’ve been working for twenty hours now, running zigzags across a hatchery compound, stripping and spawning your precious, wild-caught broodstock. Now you’ve trekked their eggs deep into the brush, along the suggestion of a trail marked only by bright flags of fluttering orange. The sun has abandoned you to the stars as you wait for your team to bring you the next cherished egg box, to be plunged into the substrate. Your wader-clad knees protest the sharp river rocks until suddenly – she’s there. 

Three feet long and silvery sleek, she whips from side to side barely a foot from your knee. She kicks up a cloud of watery dust and buries you with pebbles, carving out a nest. You are overcome with awe at this wild creature, this magnificent ocean beast that has chosen this moment, under these stars, in this shred of river to spawn. You alone have been given the honour of bearing witness to the culmination of her great migration, and you are humbled. But something jabs at your attention, prodding you back into reality. You are being repeatedly struck by a surly-jawed, thick-necked, and intensely focused grilse. He has no regard for your kidneys and every desire to mate. It is time to take your leave, and let nature run it’s course. Before tiptoeing downstream to find a new site for your egg box, you briefly consider singing a little Marvin Gaye…