Open Collections

BC Sessional Papers


Item Metadata


JSON: bcsessional-1.0059667.json
JSON-LD: bcsessional-1.0059667-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcsessional-1.0059667-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcsessional-1.0059667-rdf.json
Turtle: bcsessional-1.0059667-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcsessional-1.0059667-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcsessional-1.0059667-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

For the Year ending December 31st, 1912.
Printed by William H. Collin, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
1913.    Provincial Fisheries Department,
Victoria, February 1st, 1913.
To His Honour Thomas W. Paterson,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it please Your Honour :
I beg to submit herewith a  report giving an outline review of  the operations of the
Provincial Fisheries Department for the fiscal year.
Commissioner of Fisheries.
Commissioner of Fisheries' Office,
Victoria, British Columbia, February 1st, 1913.  TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Departmental Reports     5-13
Value of British Columbia Fisheries, Development of Deep-sea Fisheries, Accessibility
of Aleutian Island Banks from Provincial Ports   5
Introduction of Whltefish to Waters of Province _.  G
Relations with Dominion Department, Power to Lease Areas for Oyster-culture transferred to Province    7
Expert Examination of Fishery Resources   8
Dr. C. H. Gilbert's Conclusions as to Age at Maturity of Pacific Coast Salmons       8, 9
Conference with State of Washington as to Puget Sound Salmon Regulations  9
Salmon-pack of Province for the Year 1912    10,11
Summary of Reports upon Spawning-beds         11
Egg Collections at Hatcheries of Province, Fishway in Medziadin  River,  Japanese
Market Fishermen         12
Revenue Collections of Department           13
Fraser River Sockeye Run of 1912   19-24
Spawning-beds of the Fraser   25-30
Spawning-beds of the Naas     31, 32
Spawning-beds of the Skeena    33,34
Spawning-beds of Rivers Inlet   35, 36
Report on Some of the Clam-beds of British Columbia (with plates)    37-56
Age at Maturity of the Pacific Coast Salmon (with plates)     57-70
Conservation of the Oyster   71-80
Pack of British Columbia Salmon for 1912   81, 82  3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 5
British Columbia, for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 1912, led all the Provinces of
the Dominion in the value of its fishery products, with a total of $13,677,125 in a grand total
for the whole of Canada of $34,667,872. For the first time in any of the "off-years" on the
Fraser has this Province led its Atlantic fishery rival, Nova Scotia, which for the same period
produced $9,367,550. As foreshadowed in the report of the Department for last year, the
phenomenal increase, amounting to $4,513,890 over the production of the previous year and
$3,362,370 over the best year ever recorded, was due almost entirely to the increased demand
and value of the cheaper varieties of salmon. A substantial increase in the amount and value
of herring produced is shown by the statistics, while a gain in the amount of oysters, clams,
and whale products marketed is also recorded.    Halibut alone shows a falling-off.
That such an outcome was inevitable, the physical advantages of the Province witness.
British Columbia possesses a coast-line the sinuosities of which have been estimated at 27,000
miles in length, or without reckoning any but the major indentations, 7,000 miles, as against
5,000 miles presented by the Atlantic Coast of Canada. Such an area of protected waters the
fisheries of which are yet virgin lends itself readily to exploitation. With unexcelled harbours,
with waters teeming with fish, the sole need has been investigation and exploitation.
The pack of salmon is the chief fishery product of British Columbia, and in the figures
above quoted more than three-quarters of the production of the Province as expressed in
dollars was supplied from this source. But attention has at length been directed to the great
unexploited grounds of the Pacific deep-sea fisheries. Several large English companies whose
catch in the North Sea and Atlantic fishing-grounds has been cut down by increased fishing
and greater competition have been examining the field offered here, and already the vanguard
of trawlers has arrived on this Coast.
It is high time that exploitation of these resources by British crews in British bottoms
should commence. Fleets of line-fishing boats plying from the United States ports have long
preyed upon the halibut in our territorial waters, while the banks rich in food-fishes lying off
the Aleutian islands, tributary and nearer to our coasts than to Japan, are being exploited by
the latter country to a high degree. For instance, where in 1909 there was scarcely a single
trawler plying from Japanese ports, with the exception of some old wooden vessels, scores of
second-hand boats have been purchased in Great Britain, and in the single year of 1911 no
less than seventy-seven steel trawlers, totalling 13,700 tons burthen, were laid down and
completed at Japanese shipyards for this purpose.
In so far as investigation has been made, the future of the deep-sea fisheries of the North
Pacific Ocean seems to be bound up in the development of this source of supply. The
advantageous position occupied by vessel-owners using Prince Rupert and other British
Columbia ports is illustrated by the accompanying map, showing comparative distances between
Japanese and local ports.
To foster the development of the deep-sea fisheries of the Coast, an adequate examination
and investigation of the species of food-fishes found here is necessary. No organized effort
has as yet been made in this direction. The need for biological study of the fishes of the
waters of the Canadian Pacific Coast, combined with the exploration and geodetic survey of
the banks where food-fishes are found and more readily fished, is the first necessity. The only
record as yet presented on this subject is supplied in the annual reports of the United States
Bureau of Fisheries, whose officers have made various perfunctory investigations in passing
from the waters of the Pacific Coast States to those of Alaska.
Efforts should also be made to introduce to the rich waters of the Pacific various food-
fishes known to the Atlantic, but not found here. The expenditure of small sums at the
present time would ensure rich harvests in the future. An instance in point is the introduction
of the shad to the Pacific Coast of the United States.    Two shipments of shad-fry, the first I 6
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
planted in June, 1871, and totalling but 619,000, were brought to the Coast and planted in
the Sacramento River. Twenty years later the supply was in excess of the demand, and the
presence of the fish was reported from south-eastern Alaska to the boundaries of Mexico.
While shad have been fished on this Coast for the past two decades, no impression has been
made upon the supply, whereas on the Atlantic Coast artificial propagation has been necessary
and hundreds of millions are planted annually. Pacific Coast waters are so favourable to their
production that resort to artificial propagation has not been necessary. Eggs from but
thirteen females planted thirty years ago were sufficient, seemingly, to stock the waters of the
Pacific Coast for al1 time. When it is recalled that this was done at an expenditure of less
than $1,000, warrant is given to the statement that it is the greatest return for the money
invested ever experienced by any Government.
*„ Sandwici I?
Through the courtesy of the United States Bureau of Fisheries, a shipment of 5,000,000
whitefish-eggs in charge of Superintendent S. W. Downing, of the Put-in Bay Station, Lake
Erie, arrived in the Province in December, consigned to this Department. By arrangement
with the Dominion authorities these are being hatched at Harrison Lake Hatchery, where a
hatching-battery has been installed. The fry will be planted in lakes tributary to the Fraser.
Conditions here, it is believed, will prove favourable to the acclimatization of this fish, since
a native whitefish of allied species, but too small usually to prove of commercial value, has its
habitat here. The Department has urged such an experiment since 1903, and through its
active efforts in the past three years the assistance of the Dominion Department has been
pledged. Another shipment of 3,500,000 eggs is expected from the Dominion egg-taking
stations in the East some time in February. The Department hopes to continue the experiment over a period of years in the effort to acclimatize this valuable food-fish in the great
lakes of the Province.
The Department has long urged a serious attempt to introduce the lobster to the waters
of the Pacific.     Three separate shipments, each comprised of 2,000 adult lobsters, have been 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 7
made by the Dominion Department in 1905, 1907, and 1909 respectively. If the experiment
is to prove successful, it would seem advisable to establish a lobster-hatchery here where not
hundreds but millions of fry might be propagated from eggs brought to this Coast, such fry to
be planted over a wide range of water. During the past fiscal year nearly a billion lobster-fry
were planted by the Dominion Department in Atlantic waters. Where such a vast number
of eggs are obtainable, it appears reasonable to suggest that more attention might be given
the effort to establish the lobster on this Coast.
While the question of jurisdiction over the fisheries, at issue with the Dominion, has not
as yet been settled, the reference, which must ultimately go to the Privy Council, was made to
the Supreme Court of Canada in November last, judgment being reserved. The most cordial
relations exist, however, between the Dominion and Provincial Departments. Full co-operation
in all questions of policy is practised. With this in view the Deputy Commissioner was
dispatched to Ottawa in February last, where a month was spent in consultation with the
officials of the Dominion Department as to regulations, the issuance of licences, and other
At this time various changes in the regulations were debated, but only those of a minor
nature were made. It had been felt by both Departments that with the development of the
northern areas certain changes were necessary, but the need of caution and full investigation
was recognized. Accordingly, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries dispatched Mr. W. F.
Found, Superintendent of Fisheries for Canada, to this Coast in July. Accompanied by the
Chief Inspector, Mr. F. H. Cunningham, and Mr. D. N. Mclntyre, the Deputy Commissioner
of Fisheries for the Province, he visited the various fishing centres along the Coast, special
attention being paid to District No. 2, lying north of the 21st parallel.
Upon the recommendation of a Royal Commission of Fisheries, which sat from 1905 to
1907, a boat-rating in connection with the salmon-fisheries had been in force there for three
years. This rating, placed in effect by the Provincial Department in 1910, was amended the
following year by Dominion enactment, a Commission, consisting of Mr. J. P. Babcock, Deputy
Commissioner of Fisheries for British Columbia, and Mr. John T. Williams, Dominion Inspector
of Fisheries for District No. 2, having gone into the situation very fully and reported. This
rating limited the number of boats which might be fished in each area, and assigned these
amongst the existing canneries, which in effect were limited in number by previous legislation.
The rating was designed to prevent the over-exploitation of this branch of the fisheries, with
a consequent diminution in the run of salmon. It has proved satisfactory on the whole, and
we believe is accomplishing the purpose for which it was intended.
With the increased settlement of the northern coast, which has proved rapid during the
past two years, however, it was felt that exceptional privileges should be granted white fishermen who might be induced to settle in the district. While the Departments were reluctant
to change the rating, it was with the hope of stimulating such settlement that the officials of
both were deputed to investigate conditions. Messrs. Found and Mclntyre recommended that
in each year a certain proportion of the licences in each area be reserved for independent white
fishermen, these licences carrying with them the right to dispose of the fish where and to whom
the licensee desired, the proportion of licences so assigned to gradually increase in recurring
On the occasion of his visit to Ottawa in November last, the Commissioner of Fisheries
debated this matter with the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, with the result that it was
decided to receive applications up to March 15th in each year from independent white fishermen owning their own boats and gear to whom licences not exceeding the following numbers
would be issued in 1913 for the districts named: Naas River, 40 ; Skeena River, 170; Rivers
Inlet, 175; Bella Coola, 14; Kimsquit, 8; Manitou, 8; Namu, 5; and Smith's Inlet, 5.
Other matters affecting the fisheries were also discussed, with the result that the anomaly
of a closed time to protect certain deep-sea fishes whose breeding-time had not previously been
ascertained was also removed.
To obviate the confusion incident to an unsettled jurisdiction which had prevented a
proper development of the oyster industry, an arrangement has been consummated with the
Dominion whereby the Province assumes the entire power of leasing areas suitable for oyster-
culture. Mr. W. F. Thompson, an expert on the subject, was retained last summer to investigate the natural deposits of shell-fish of the Province. He visited most of the known areas in
the southern portion of British Columbia, including Vancouver Island, and reported as to the I 8 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
extent of and progress made in developing these. He will continue his investigations during
the approaching summer.    His preliminary report in part appears in the Appendix.
Dr. Joseph Stafford, who spent several months at the Dominion Biological Station at
Departure Bay in investigating the oyster, in a paper read before the Fishery Committee of
the Conservation Commission, reported that he has succeeded in establishing that the Eastern
oyster will reproduce in the waters of the British Columbia Coast. His paper is of great
interest and is reproduced in the Appendix.
To be effective, fishery regulations must be based upon an adequate knowledge of the life-
history of the fish for the protection of which the legislation is designed. Hence arises the
necessity for research by trained biologists.
Dr. C. H. Gilbert, head of the Zoological Department of Stanford University and the
foremost authority upon the Oncorhynohus, who has devoted the last four years to investigating
the age of the Pacific salmon from scale readings, as exemplified in the case of the Atlantic
salmon by scientists retained by the Scottish Fisheries Board, was retained by the Department
last year to continue his investigations. From the examination of the scales of thousands of
salmon, he has drawn the following conclusions :—
The sockeye spawn normally either in the fourth or fifth year, the spring salmon in its
fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh year, the females of each species being preponderatingly four-
year fish.
The young of both sockeye and spring salmon may migrate seaward shortly after hatching,
or may reside in fresh water until their second spring. Those of the first type grow more
rapidly than the second, but are subject to greater dangers and develop proportionately fewer
Cohoe salmon spawn normally only in their third year. The young migrate either as fry
or as yearlings, but adults are developed almost exclusively from those that migrate as yearlings.
Dog salmon mature normally either in their third, fourth, or fifth years, the bumpback
always in their second year. The young of both species pass to sea as soon as they are free
The term " grilse " as used for Pacific salmon signifies conspicuously undersized fish which
sparingly accompany the spawning run. They are precociously developed in advance of the
normal spawning period of the species. So far as known, the grilse of the spring salmon, cohoe,
and dog salmon are exclusively males ; of the sockeye almost exclusively males, except on the
Columbia River, where both sexes are about equally represented. The larger grilse meet or
overlap in size the smaller of those individuals, which mature one year later at the normal
Grilse of the sockeye are in their third year, of the spring salmon in their second or third
year, of the cohoe and dog salmon in their second year.
The great difference in size of the individuals of a species observed in the spawning run
are closely correlated with age, the younger fish averaging constantly smaller than those one
year older, although the curves of the two may overlap.
Dr. Gilbert's paper on the " Age at Maturity of the Pacific Salmon," reprinted by the
courtesy of the United States Bureau of Fisheries from a bulletin issued by them, will be
found in the Appendix.
During the past summer Dr. Gilbert devoted a considerable time to a study of the run
of sockeye to the Fraser River. H is very able report is produced in the Appendix. It is
one of the most valuable papers furnished the Department. Dr. Gilbert's services have been
retained for the coming summer to continue his researches along similar lines.
An investigation of the salmon-fishing on Swiftsure Bank and in the CapeTlattery region
generally was also conducted for the Department by Dr. Gilbert and Mr. J. P. Babcock. This
fishing, which did not begin on a large scale until 1911, has with the extensive use of powerboats swollen to considerable proportions. As it developed, many canners of the Fraser and
Puget Sound feared that it spelt the doom of the inshore and estuary fisheries, and that if it
were established as possible to take the salmon upon their feeding-grounds, there were grave
fears for the future of the industry. In 1911 twenty-two purse-seine boats and 250 trollers
are said to have been engaged in the fishery, and their catch was placed at 850,000 cohoes and
about an equal number of humpbacks. In 1912 over 100 purse-seine boats and 450 trollers
operated. Notwithstanding this, the total catch, owing to there being no humpback run and
to unfavourable weather conditions, totalled much less than the total for 1911, or about
950,000 salmon of all varieties. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 9
While Dr. Gilbert and Mr. Babcock deplored this fishing, in that it added an additional
point of attack upon the already overfished runs to the Fraser and streams of Puget Sound,
the chief objection to it was the economic waste involved in marketing the fish when immature
and in poor condition. The most valuable of the salmon taken on the banks has been the
cohoe, and it would gain about 100 per cent, of its weight if permitted to grow throughout the
season and caught on the fishing-grounds up the Sound or the Lower Fraser when mature in
the autumn.
The condition of the cohoe and the spring salmon taken on the banks, especially in the
beginning of the season, are soft and not so easily handled, as their abdomens are distended with
food. The sockeye, on the other hand, has practically attained its full growth on reaching this
region, and its flesh is not conspicuously softer than when captured elsewhere.
Perhaps the discovery in which the Department takes the greatest pride in this connection
is that all species of salmon, even including the sockeye, were found feeding voraciously on
Swiftsure Bank. The feeding habits of the sockeye have hitherto been unknown, although
thousands of specimens had been examined from the mouth of the Fraser, the Gulf of Georgia,
the Salmon Banks, and even from the westernmost traps on Vancouver Island. This had led
to the theory that the Fraser River sockeye come annually from some distant feeding-ground
and begin fasting as soon as they start on their shoreward migration. During the past
summer Dr. Gilbert and Mr. Babcock observed that the sockeye on Swiftsure Bank were
feeding extensively on a small shrimp-like crustacean (Thysano'essa spinifera, Holmes) which
floats in incredible numbers on the tides and forms a favourite food with all varieties of the
This discovery is an important one, with a bearing on the probable life of this species in
the sea. It is no longer necessary to postulate for them a distant mysterious residence where
they feed on some equally mysterious diet.    As Dr. Gilbert expresses it:—
" We are at liberty to believe that the young, on passing out from the straits, may
distribute themselves in the adjacent sea, and during the years of their growth may wander
far and near in search of food, reassembling off the straits when approaching maturity leads
them back to their natural stream. Neither in the case of the sockeye nor in that of any
other species is there any basis for assuming a definite migration in the sea either north or
south and a longitudinal movement along the coasts. More probably there is something in
the nature of a fan-like dispersal of young from the mouths of their native streams and a
reverse movement as spawning-time approaches."
John Pease Babcock, Esq., for ten years Deputy Commissioner of Fisheries, who left the
Province in 1910, has returned to assume the position of Assistant to the Commissioner.
Under his direction the Department will extend its research work.
Following its appointment by the Hon. M. E. Hay, Governor of Washington, to
investigate the fishing industries of that State, a Senate committee paid a visit to Victoria in
the course of its inspection of fishing conditions on Puget Sound. The committee interviewed
the Hon. the Premier and the Commissioner of Fisheries with regard to the warning voiced in
previous reports of the Department that the sockeye salmon running to the Fraser were
becoming depleted.
Upon the invitation of Governor Hay, which the Commissioner was unable to accept in
person, Messrs. Babcock and Mclntyre were delegated to confer with this committee in
July last. At the meetings which were held in Seattle the State Senators were placed in
possession of data concerning the runs to the Fraser, and representations were made that the
depiction was due largely to a failure on the part of the State of Washington to adequately
enforce their laws providing close seasons, even were the latter of sufficient length.
Following this session and having confirmed the statements made by the Provincial
delegates, the majority of the committee submitted a report urging the provision of adequate
patrols and various amendments to the fishery laws along the lines urged by this Department.
In February, following an invitation from Hon. Ernest Lister, Governor of Washington,
Messrs. Babcock and Mclntyre again met the committee. At this meeting the Senate
committee agreed to recommend to the Legislature of the State of Washington that the sale
of salmon less than 3 lb. in weight be prohibited, these having been marketed throughout the
State of all sizes under the name of salmon trout; to take steps to prevent the capture of
salmon on offshore feeding-banks during certain seasons of the year, and to increase the weekly
closed time in two of the cycles of off-years—namely, those ending in the even numbers 1914,
1916, etc. I 10 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
A difference of opinion developed as to the best manner in which to effect this closed
time, the Provincial authorities urging hours identical with those in force in British Columbia,
while the majority of the State of Washington committee favoured their closed period being
set for hours preceding those in which fishing is closed in British Columbia.
The committee finally decided to recommend that a weekly closed time of forty-eight
hours for the years 1914 and 1916 and their cycles be enforced in all salmon-fisheries
within the State, to commence twenty-four hours before the British Columbia closed period ;
such legislation to be enacted subject to the passing of regulations by the Canadian authorities
providing a similar number of hours beginning twenty-four hours later.
The total salmon-pack of the Province this year consisted of 996,577 cases of canned and
1,489 tierces of mild-cured salmon, the latter weighing 1,220,886 lb. The pack this year was
the greatest since 1905, exceeding the largest of the last six years by 28,656 cases. Of the
total, the Skeena River ranks first with 254,258 cases, the Fraser River second with 199,322
cases, followed by Rivers Inlet with 137,697 cases, the Naas River with 71,162 cases, and
outlying districts with 334,187 cases. The latter term includes all the canneries operated in
northern waters other than at Rivers Inlet, Skeena and Naas Rivers, and all those operated
on Vancouver Island, with the exception of the plant at Esquimalt, which is accredited to
the Fraser River District.
The total pack for the year consists of 444,763 cases of sockeye, 80,437 red and white
springs, 165,309 cohoe, 247,743 pinks, and 58,325 chums. A detailed statement of the pack
furnished by the B.C. Salmon Canners' Association is given in the Appendix.
The principal gain this year over the figures for last year was made at the outlying
canneries, the pack showing an increase of 107,726 cases. The pack at Rivers Inlet exceeded
that of last year by 36,631 cases, and the Naas River pack shows a gain of 5,478 cases. The
pack on the Fraser River this year was less by 101,022 cases than in 1911, notwithstanding
a gain of 65,392 cases of sockeye and 9,249 cases of red and white springs. This loss was due
to the fact that there was no run of humpback or pink salmon there this year, this species
appearing only every other year in the Fraser.
Fifty-eight salmon-canneries were operated in the Province during the year, fourteen of
which are accredited to the Fraser River, twelve to the Skeena, seven at Rivers Inlet, four on
the Naas, and twenty at outlying districts.
The total pack of sockeye shows a gratifying increase, totalling 444,763 cases as compared
with 383,509 cases in 1911. An analysis of these figures is interesting. The Skeena River
shows a heavy falling-off in sockeye, producing 92,498 cases as against 131,066 cases in 1911 ;
Rivers Inlet shows an increase, producing 112,884 cases as against 88,763 in 1911 ; the Naas
a slight decrease, producing 36,037 cases as against 37,327 cases in 1911. Outlying districts
produced 94,559 cases against 67,866 cases in 1911. The most gratifying increase was shown
by the Fraser River, which produced 123,879 cases as against 62,817 in 1911.
The pack of sockeye in the Fraser River-Puget Sound District this year was distinctly
satisfactory for an off-year, totalling 325,451 cases, our canners, as stated, producing 123,879
cases, and the American canners 201,572 cases. This shows a gain of 29 per cent, over the
catch of 1908 and 39 per cent, over that of 1904, corresponding years of the cycle. The
increase in the run to this district over those of 1908 and 1904 was anticipated in the report
made to the Department in 1908. The report for that year clearly indicated that the spawning-beds of the Fraser were much more abundantly seeded in 1908 than they were in 1904,
and the hatchery output was very much larger. The hatcheries in 1904 contained but
9,500,000 sockeye-eggs, and in 1908 they secured 46,700,000. With a greater increase in
natural propagation in the headwaters of the Fraser and an increase of 37,000,000 in the
output of the hatcheries in 1908, it may be safely assumed that the total number of young
sockeyes which reached the sea from the hatch of that year was very much greater than it
was in 1904, and that under equally favourable conditions during the years of their life in
the sea a far greater number would return this year.
Not only was the pack on the Fraser River-Puget Sound District this year greater than
in 1908, the total number of breeding sockeye which reached the spawning-beds was even
greater than in 1908, as is clearly shown by Mr. Babcock's report, which is given in the
Appendix. The fish which reached the spawning-beds of the headwaters of the Fraser River
this year, like those that reached there in 1908, appear to have entered the river previous to
the opening of the fishing season.    Otherwise they could not have reached the Chilco and 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 11
Quesnel Lakes so early in the season. Owing to a scarcity of breeding fish upon the spawning-
beds of the Lower Harrison, the sockeye-egg collection there totalled less than 3,000,000,
which would indicate that but few of the late running sockeye escaped capture on the fishing-
grounds. For this reason the total egg-collections at Fraser River hatcheries total 38,000,000
as compared with 46,700,000 four years previous.
The catch of sockeye from the Skeena this year was disappointing to the Department,
fishermen, and canners. The pack was 92,498 cases, or 47,348 cases less than it was in 1908,
the corresponding year of the cycle. There has been a considerable fluctuation in the catch
on the Skeena during the past ten years, though the run to this river is considered as being
more constant than to any other stream in the Province.
In recent years, when the catch has fallen below the average, it has been shown that the
weather conditions have not been favourable to the netting of the fish. The weather
conditions this year throughout were favourable for good catches, and the catch during the
first part of the season was above the average. The failure to make an average catch can
only be attributed to a decrease in the numbers which entered the river, since the reports
show that the weather conditions on the fishing-grounds were favourable, and that there was
a scarcity of sockeye on the spawning-grounds throughout the watershed of the Skeena.
The catch in 1908 was the second largest ever made in the Skeena, and the reports made
to the Department that year show that the spawning-grounds of the watershed were as
abundantly seeded as in any year for which we have records ; hence it cannot be asserted that
the catch in 1908 left the beds unseeded.
Since we believe that the spawning-beds of the Skeena were abundantly seeded four years
ago, and that in consequence the seaward migration of young sockeye from that season's spawning
was also abundant, we can only attribute the decline in the run to the unfavourable conditions
upon the feeding-grounds in tbe open sea.
The catch of sockeye at Rivers Inlet this year was as pleasing and satisfactory as the
run to the Skeena was disappointing. The sockeye catch at Rivers Inlet this year was the
second largest ever made there, consisting of 112,884 cases, and exceeded the eatch of 1908
by 58,232 cases. The spawning-beds of this section four years ago were also abundantly
seeded. That the run to Rivers Inlet this year was so much greater than that of four years
ago, while the run to the Skeena shows such a marked decline, only accentuates our often-
repeated statement that every forecast of the runs must be more or less unreliable, from the
fact that we know nothing whatever about the conditions which have existed upon the
feeding-grounds in the sea during the three years the sockeye spend there.
During the season the Department conducted its usual inspection of the salmon-spawning
beds of the Fraser, Skeena, and Naas Rivers, and Rivers Inlet. The detailed reports from
each section are given in full in the Appendix to this report.
The report from the Fraser River discloses that the run of sockeye to Chilco, Quesnel,
Seton, and Lillooet Lakes Sections was more abundant this year than in either 1908 or 1904—
corresponding years in the cycle—and, in fact more abundant than in any other off-year since
1902. There appears to have been no run of sockeye to the Adams-Shuswap Lakes Section,
and a great decrease in the run to the Lower Harrison and Morris Creek, where in former
years the fish have been more abundant than in any other section of the Fraser.
The collections of sockeye-eggs from the Fraser River this year totalled 38,500,000 to
which must be added the 6,000,000 sockeye-eggs collected from the watershed of the Skeena,
which were hatched and planted at Stuart Lake, one of the sources of the Fraser.
The reports from the spawning-area of the Skeena River are not of a satisfactory character,
the beds being less abundantly seeded than in each of the last five years. The hatcheries,
however, obtained 13,000,000 sockeye-eggs.
The spawning-beds of the tributaries of Oweekayno Lake, at the head of Rivers Inlet,
appear from the reports to have been as abundantly seeded this season as in any year since
investigations have been made.    The hatchery collected 9,000,000 sockeye-eggs.
The report from the watershed of the Naas River is more than ordinarily interesting. It
announced the discovery of a lake that is larger than any other in the watershed heretofore
reported which is frequented by sockeye. The sockeye spawning-beds of the Naas appear to
have been abundantly seeded, the numbers which entered the Medziadin Section being
apparently greater than in recent years. I 12
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
We are indebted to Mr. F. H. Cunningham, the Chief Inspector of Fisheries for the
Dominion, for the following statement showing the number of salmon-eggs collected for
Dominion hatcheries this year, to which we have added the collection of the Provincial
hatchery at Seton Lake :—
Statement showing Salmon-eggs collected fob the Hatcheries in the Province
for the Season 1912.
Grand Total.
* Eggs collected from Skeena River watershed.
In 1908 Fishery Overseer Hickman, in a report upon the spawning-grounds of the Naas
River basin, called attention to the fact that there was a fall in the Medziadin River, one of
the largest tributaries of the Naas, which at low stages of water prevented large numbers of
sockeye salmon from entering Medziadin Lake. In subsequent reports he called attention to
the necessity of constructing a fishway at these falls.
Mr. Babcock visited the Medziadin River in August and made a report upon the character
of the falls, in which he so strongly advocated the construction of a fishway that a copy of his
report, with accompanying photographs and the plans of the form of fishway which he
proposed, was forwarded to Hon. J. D. Hazen, Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa,
with urgent requests that the work be undertaken this winter.
Hon. Mr. Hazen gave the request immediate consideration and arranged to finance the
work. His Department's Engineer being engaged on the Atlantic Coast, he authorized this
Department to at once proceed with the construction of the fishway in accordance with Mr.
Babcock's plans. The work has been placed in charge of C. J. Gillingham, Road Superintendent, Stewart District, and is proceeding satisfactorily and is expected to be finished in
March. The plans call for a 20-foot wide passage-way cut in the rock at the north end of the
falls, which will contain five basins or pools each 20 feet square, with a drop of 2\ feet between
basins. The work will cost close to $14,000. As Medziadin is the next to the largest lake
tributary to the Naas and affords ample spawning-grounds for an unlimited number of sockeye,
such an expenditure is fully warranted.
The Department has investigated the sources of supply of the fresh-fish markets of the
chief Coast cities. It has been discovered that these are chiefly supplied by Japanese, with
the number of white fishermen greatly in the minority. As an instance, Victoria is supplied
chiefly by Japanese operating some twelve gasolene-launches, the only whites being some seven
Greek fishermen operating sailboats, and two Newfoundlanders operating a gasolene-launch.
Vancouver markets are supplied in part by 137 Japanese operating sixty-seven boats, and
forty-three whites, including some sixteen Scotch fishermen, operating eighteen boats. At
other Coast cities Japanese and whites are found engaged in the same proportion.
The Japanese have been able to operate to greater advantage than the whites through
the practice of co-operation. By pooling their profits and subdividing the labour, some
procuring bait, some fishing, while others take their catch to market, a steady supply of fish
is maintained upon which dealers can rely.    The whites operating individually cannot afford 3 Geo. 5
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
I 13
the retailer an assurance of a steady supply of fish, with consequent loss to himself. Once in
control of the situation the Japanese will not permit the market to be glutted with fish,
maintaining their price at all seasons.
The catch of whales made by the one company operating in British Columbia shows a
slight falling-off. During the year 1,095 were taken as against 1,199 in 1911. Two stations
are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and two in the Queen Charlotte Islands,
the chief falling-off being shown in the southerly stations.    The catch was as follows :—
Sechart, Vancouver Island 283 whales. ■
Kyuquot, ii n      286      n
Rose Harbour, Queen Charlotte Islands 186      n
Naden       ii n n n        340       n
Whale Products—
Whale-oil 37,490 bbls.
Sperm-whale oil    1,341    n
Fertilizer    3,277 tons.
Bone-meal    1,203   ,,
Whale-bone       123    „
The herring run commencing this January has proven exceptionally heavy, and in the
south alone will total over 15,000 tons.
The revenue from cannery and fishing licences totalled $32,010, made up as follows :—
Revenue Collections ot Fishery Department tor the Year 1912.
Salmon-Fishing Licences.
Cannery Licences.
on Trapped
$ 6,965 00
3,500 00
4,250 00
1,200 00
6,720 00
$ 1,400 00
700 00
1,300 00
400 00
2,000 00
t 1,100 00
* $ 125 00
* | 260 00
$   9,840 00
4,200 00
100 00
100 00
1,900 00
5,6f.O 00
1,700 00
10,620 00
Totals   ....
$22,635 00
$ 5,800 00
$ 3,200 00
S   125 00
$   260 00
S 32,010 00
* Situated on west coast of Vancouver Island, but capturing sockeye bound for the Fraser. I 14 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
Hon.   W. J. Bowser, K.C.,
Commissioner of Fisheries,   Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—Salmon-fishing on Swiftsure Bank and in the Cape Flattery region generally did
not begin on a large scale until the season of 1911, when the extensive use of power-boats
enabled the troller and purse-seiner to operate with comparative safety on the off-shore banks.
For a number of years prior to 1911 a small supply of salmon had been obtained from the
Cape region, and either marketed fresh or canned at Port Angeles or Port Townsend.
Originally, these were taken by Indians who obtained them trolling, for the most part near
shore. In 1908 white trollers appeared and have since steadily increased in numbers. The
maximum output during this early period has been estimated at approximately 15,000 cases,
in addition to a small amount marketed fresh.
In the season of 1911, for the first time, purse-seiners operated in the Cape region and
were accompanied by an unprecedented number of trollers. There are said to have been in
commission about twenty-two seine-boats and perhaps 250 trollers. No close estimate can be
made of the total output of the district during 1911. The best figures available indicate
850,000 cohoes or silver salmon, and an equal number of pinks or humpbacks. No record is
obtainable of the spring salmon, but it is safe to assume that they were taken in about the
small proportion as existed in 1912. Sockeyes and chums or dog-salmon were taken in very
small numbers.
Finally, in 1912, over 100 purse-seine boats were operating out of Neah Bay at one time,
with a total for the season of probably over 125. There were probably 400 or 450 trollers at
work some time during the season. But the total yield of the Bank was less than for 1911,
in spite of the great increase in amount of gear. This was due in part to the fact that 1912
was an off-year for humpbacks, partly perhaps to unfavourable weather, but in part, without
question, to the diminished run of cohoes or silver salmon. Over 100 purse-seiners in 1912
failed to increase, if indeed they equalled, the catch of cohoes made by twenty-two purse-
seiners in 1911.
Figures obtained from all the canneries known to have handled fish from Swiftsure Bank
and the Cape in 1912 give the following totals :—
Spring salmon      47,434
Sockeyes      12,711
Cohoes    822,798
Humpbacks        3,324
Figures were not available for spring salmon marketed in a fresh condition, and such are
not included above. Making a reasonable allowance for these and for those of other species
that failed to be enumerated or that perished in transit, we have:—
Spring salmon „     90,000
Sockeyes      15,000
Cohoes    840,000
Humpbacks        5,000
Total    950,000
This total agrees with that independently obtained by Mr. W. I. Crawford, secretary of
the Puget Sound Canners' Association, who has kindly furnished us with much valuable
information, and to whom our thanks are due.   3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 15
Various theories are held by fishermen and dealers as to the source and the destination
of the salmon which school on Swiftsure Bank. Some claim they come in from the south and
are migratory species bound north for Alaskan waters. As regards the direction whence they
approach the Bank, we have nothing to offer; but it can be asserted with a very high degree
of probability that all of them are bound up the Straits of Fuca to spawn in the Fraser River
or in the streams tributary to Puget Sound. This can now be considered demonstrated as
regards the sockeyes and humpbacks, for the periodicity in their runs which these species
exhibit in the Puget Sound District, and not elsewhere, is perfectly marked on Swiftsure
Bank. Thus we have seen, there was an enormous run of humpbacks on the Bank in 1911,
when this species ran heavily on the Sound, whereas it was almost wholly lacking on the Bank
in 1912, the off-year for the Sound. It is safe to predict that it will run heavily again on the
Bank in 1913 and be almost lacking in 1914. No observations have yet been made of the
abundance of sockeyes on Swiftsure Bank during a season of heavy run. An opportunity for
such an observation will offer for the first time during the summer of 1913, when we may
confidently anticipate a much larger catch than was made in 1911 or in 1912. But the Fraser
River run can be detected just as certainly in any part of its course during the year before the
big run. For it is then marked by enormous numbers of small precocious males, known as
" grilse,': whereas in all other streams and in the other three years of the Fraser River cycle
the grilse are present in such small numbers as not to attract attention. A heavy run of
grilse was due, therefore, in 1912, and wherever the Fraser River sockeyes were captured,
whether in the Gulf of Georgia, on the Salmon Banks, or along the southern coast of Vancouver Island, the grilse were, in fact, found to constitute numerically a surprising proportion
of the total catch. On Swiftsure Bank the same was true, the grilse constituting numerically
from 15 to 20 per cent, of the total catch. This fact alone was sufficient to identify the Bank
fish completely as a part of the Fraser River run.
The spring salmon taken on Swiftsure Bank can also be identified by those familiar with
the Puget Sound run. The Fraser River race, with its short, bluntly rounded head, tender
red flesh, and soft bones and cartilages, familiar to the trapmen of the Gulf of Georgia, the
Salmon Banks, and the west coast of San Juan Island, can be easily distinguished on Swiftsure, and runs there in varying proportions in different parts of the season. The other springs
taken on the Bank agree in appearance with those bound for the streams of Puget Sound,
with long sharp noses, paler firmer flesh, and harder bones and cartilages. Here, again, we
can entertain no doubt that the spring salmon also are schooling on the Bank temporarily, and
are headed up Sound to the streams in which they will spawn and die.
As regards the destination of the cohoes, which constitute so large a proportion of the
yield of the Bank, conclusive evidence is lacking, due, no doubt, to the fact that these fishes
have been less investigated than the sockeye and the spring salmon, so we are not yet in a
position to recognize their local races and the streams for which they are bound. In the
early part of the season the cohoes taken on the Bank differ so strikingly from those taken
later in Puget Sound that the majority of the canners consider them a distinct fish. They
average much smaller in size, have redder meat, and are so soft that it is difficult to bring
them from the fishing-grounds in fit condition for canning. But as regards both size and consistency, there is a gradual change in the Bank cohoes, the fish becoming both larger and firmer
as the season advances. The increase in size is made evident by all cannery records, which give
the number of fish per case at intervals through the season. The one given below would be
still more striking did it contain the first of the run :
July 23rd  13.35 cohoes to the case.
August   4th  11.55
„     12th  10.08
„      23rd      9.65
„     30th '. 8.06
September 2nd      7.56
Another record is as follows :—
July 6th  14.16 cohoes to the case.
August 9th  11.14
„    19th  10.00 I 16 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
The small size and different consistency of the Bank cohoes are evidently phenomena
associated with their growth and manner of feeding, and do not mark them off from the fish
of Puget Sound.
All the cohoes taken on the Bank are in their third year and will mature and die during
that season. Those captured during the summer of 1912 had been spawned in the winter of
1909-10, and had lived in their native stream until the spring of 1911, when they descended
to salt-water, at a length of 3 or 4 inches. During that summer they grew rapidly, and by
September had attained a length of 6 to 14 inches. Their further growth during the winter
of 1911-12 has not been fully traced, but it is these same fish which appeared on Swiftsure
Bank the following spring and attained full size and maturity during that season. Much the
greater part of their growth is attained, therefore, in their third and last year, so it is not
surprising that those first seen in the early summer are small and immature in comparison
with the same fish two or three months later.
Food of  Swiftsure Bank Salmon.
All species of salmon are feeding voraciously on Swiftsure Bank, even including the
sockeye, the feeding habits of which have been hitherto unknown. Although thousands of
sockeyes had been examined from the mouth of the Fraser, the Gulf of Georgia, the Salmon
Banks, and even from the westernmost traps on Vancouver Island, no trace of food had been
found in the stomachs. This had led to the theory that the Fraser River sockeye come
annually from some distant feeding-ground and begin fasting as soon as they start on their
shoreward migration. But during the past summer it was observed by Mr. J. P. Babcock and
the writer that the sockeye on the BanK were feeding extensively on a small shrimp-like
crustacean (Thysano'essa spinifera, Holmes*), which floats in incredible numbers on the tides
and forms a favourite food for the other species of salmon as well as the sockeye. These
floating organisms often form brownish masses at or near the surface and are considered to
give certain indication of the presence of salmon. Every specimen of sockeye examined at
the Bank had been feeding freely on these crustaceans, but whereas the spring salmon and the
cohoes frequently contained herring and other small fish, no trace of these were found in the
sockeye. This distinction in diet is not improbably a permanent one, though further
observations are necessary to establish it. The springs and cohoes have large teeth, and the
appendages or strainers on the gill arches are short, few in number, and coarse. These are
characteristic of predaceous fish, and doubtless indicate a preference for the larger and more
active prey. But the sockeye, as is well known, has but few minute teeth, so that it frequently
passes for toothless, and is further characterized by the numerous, long, slender, and close-set
strainers of the gill-arches. It should occasion no surprise, therefore, to discover that it feeds
principally, or even exclusively, on the smaller pelagic organisms.
This discovery of Fraser River sockeyes feeding normally at the entrance of the Straits
of Fuca is an important one, with a bearing on the probable life of this species in the sea. It
is no longer necessary to postulate for them a distant mysterious residence where they feed on
some equally mysterious diet. We are at liberty to believe that the young, on passing out
from the Straits, may distribute themselves in the adjacent sea, and during the years of their
growth may wander far or near in search of food, reassembling off the Straits when approaching
maturity leads them back toward their natal stream. Neither in the case of the sockeye nor
in that of any other species is there any basis for assuming a definite migration in the sea,
either north or south, and a longitudinal movement along the coasts. More probably there is
something in the nature of a fan-like dispersal of young from the mouths of their native
streams, and a reverse movement as spawning-time approaches.
The favourite fish-food of the spring salmon and the cohoe is the sand-lance (Ammodytes
personatus, Girard), known locally as "candle-fish." Another species, of Ammodytes is the
preferred food of the Atlantic salmon. Where the sand-lance abounds in the Straits of Fuca,
it is chosen by young and old to the almost total exclusion of other diet. None were seen on
Swiftsure Bank, where the numerous species taken from the stomachs seemed to indicate that
choice was largely determined by available size and by ease of capture. Herring and smelt
were most frequently seen, but the larger spring salmon may even devour the hake and species
of  similar  size.    The  principal  food   of  all,   however,  is the small crustacean  previously
*For the identification of these specimens and for other facts in that connection, we have to thank the
kindness of Miss M. J. Rathbun, of the United States National Museum. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 17
mentioned. There is no reason apparent why these should occur in special abundance in the
vicinity of a submarine bank. They are pelagic or free-swimming throughout life, the eggs
float freely in the water and hatch out in free-swimming larvae, which at no stage in their
development have any necessary relation with the bottom. The depth which this species may
inhabit is unknown. The closely related Atlantic form (Thysano'dssa inermis, Kroyer) is
found in the upper water layers, from the surface down to 100 fathoms, but whether deeper
than 100 fathoms has not been ascertained.
Economic Aspects of the Fishery.
Before the recent phenomenal development of the purse-seine fishing fleet, Puget Sound
and adjacent waters were already too closely fished, with serious inroads already made on the
three most valuable species—the sockeye, the spring salmon, and the cohoe. In their long
journey through Straits and Gulf, they had to run an ever-lengthening gauntlet, with the result
that the breeding stock became yearly so depleted that it was inadequate to keep up the supply.
The recent discovery that the salmon school in large numbers on Swiftsure Bank adds one
more point of attack and threatens annually to diminish the advancing schools by another
million fish. This in itself is regrettable, but might not furnish adequate grounds for
prohibiting the fishing, even were it ascertained that effective supervision of the Bank could
be exercised. For it might be justly urged that, even though an additional million fish
threatened the industry, there was no reason why Swiftsure Bank should not be permitted to
furnish its quota of whatever total number could rightly be spared.
There are at least two other reasons, however, why the capture of salmon on Swiftsure
Bank is ill-advised and involves a serious economic waste not encountered elsewhere. In the
first place, the salmon there captured, especially in the first part of the season, are far from
having attained their full growth, although maturity is but a few months distant. The most,
valuable product of the Bank is the cohoe, which would gain about 100 per cent, of its net
weight if it could be permitted to grow throughout the season, and could be taken on fishing-
grounds up the Sound, when mature in the fall.
A further objection lies in the well-known fact that the condition of the salmon taken on
the Bank from the beginning of the season to near its close is such that the majority of the
canners would perfer not to handle them. This is pre-eminently the case with the cohoe, but
is unmistakably true also with the spring salmon. The flesh is peculiarly soft and pulpy, so
that it rapidly deteriorates, and the abdomen is commonly distended with crustacean food,
which quickly breaks down and infects the adjacent tissue. As a result, even when handled
with the customary care, salmon from the Bank may become in less than twenty-four hours
from their capture the very reverse of attractive. The abdomens may be broken open, the
ribs protruding freely, and the flesh may havs begun to deteriorate. Even the canneries most
favourably located to handle this product were forced to adopt extraordinary precautions.
Those at a great distance, while forwarding the fish with all possible expedition, sometimes
received them in very poor condition. Now and again, a part of the consignment would have
to be rejected. Occasionally, it is to be feared, it found it way into tins to which a pure-food
law might well have taken exception.
Not only, then, is there an economic waste in catching the smaller fish on Swiftsure Bank
so early in the season, but there is an economic crime in handling them at such time and place
that there must result a product very inferior, if not actually dangerous to health. We cannot
resist the conclusion that it would be far better for the industry if fishing on the Bank could
be entirely discontinued.
The above statements concerning the small size and unfavourable condition of the Bank
salmon refer, as has been said, pre-eminently to the cohoe, which in most years form the
most valuable component of the catch. This species spawns very late in the fall and winter,
and continues to feed voraciously and to grow up to the time of entering the streams. Of the
valuable species which frequent the Bank, it is therefore the smallest and most immature in
the early part of the season.
The sockeye, on the other hand, has practically attained its full growth on reaching the
Bank, and the flesh is not conspicuously softer then when captured elsewhere. No young
sockeyes, save the precociously mature male grilse, were seen. The species occurs on the Bank
in off-years in such relatively small numbers as to have during those years no effect on the
sockeye run. I 18
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
The spring salmon is taken in large numbers and furnishes a somewhat inferior product,
with soft flesh, little oil, and poor colour. Several thousand young of this species are captured
during the season, two-year-olds, about a foot long, with white soft flesh—a total waste. The
numbers of these are relatively small, as the great majority of the salmon on the Bank are in
their last season, but the loss is nevertheless serious and deplorable.
Victoria, B.C., September 1st, 1912.
I have, etc.,
Charles H. Gilbert,
Professor of Zoology,
Stanford University. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 19
Hon.   W. J. Bowser, K.C.,
Commissioner of Fisheries,   Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—Prior to 1910, when the writer first developed the method of determining the age of
Pacific salmon by the seasonal grouping of the delicate rings marking the surface of the scales
(see page I 57), it had been generally accepted that Fraser River sockeye mature invariably
in their fourth year. This theory was based on the well-known fact that very heavy runs
enter the Fraser every fourth year, with much lighter runs in the intervening years, a
condition which has existed as far back as we have any definite records. The theory of a
four-year cycle for the sockeye seemed, therefore, well founded, and it became a matter of
extraordinary interest to test the theory by independently determining the age of a number
of individuals belonging to the spawning run.
On doing this, it became at once apparent that the majority were four years old and
hence in accord with the theory. But the smallest members of the run (almost invariably
males) were but three years old, while a considerable number of the larger fish were
unmistakably in their fifth year. In view of these facts, it became important to inquire how
the predominance of every fourth year had been so long maintained. For if the progeny of a
big year should mature and return to the river partly in three, partly in four, and partly in
five years, it would seem there should be a tendency to increase the runs in the third and
fifth years of the cycle, as well as to maintain that of the fourth year; and as this tendency
would be constantly operative and cumulative, it should eventually distribute the benefits of
the " big years " equally among the others.
On consideration, however, it becomes obvious that the three-year fish, or grilse, can be
ttiminated from the problem. For inasmuch as practically none of these are females, and as
the males can be considered purely supplementary, being of small size and not needed on the
spawning-beds, it is evident they add nothing to the progeny of any year in whieh they are
more than usually numerous.
But the case would appear otherwise with the five-year fish. Among these, both males
and females are present in not very unequal numbers, and with these the females average
larger than the four-year females and produce a greater number of eggs. If, therefore, any
constant percentage of the progeny of a big year matures in its fifth rather than its fourth
year, this should have its evident effect on the fifth year of the cycle. Such an effect thus far
has not been determined. It would be impossible to separate the two ages by their
appearance, for, although the five-year fish average larger, the two ages widely overlap in this
regard. An analysis of the run by the aid of the scales is necessary to decide this point, and
must extend over a number of years, until we shall have ascertained whether the proportion
of the progeny which delay maturing until their fifth year is a relatively constant one, or
whether it fluctuates so widely for unknown reasons that we are unable to predict the outcome
in any given case. If the proportion is relatively constant, then we can predict the run with
some assurance in any year, if we know the success of natural and artificial propagation in
the fourth and the fifth years preceding. But if the proportion varies widely in different
years, this would introduce a disturbing factor which might bring prophesy to naught,
especially in the years of small run.
Thus, if 1914, 1915, and 1916 should have approximately equal runs and should present
equally favourable conditions on the spawning-beds and in the hatcheries, nevertheless the
corresponding years of the next cycle might from this cause exhibit very unequal runs. If,
for example, 5 per cent, of the progeny of 1914, 45 per cent, of 1915, and 20 per cent, of 1916
should mature in their fifth year, then the run of 1919 would be made up of the 5 per cent,
five-year-olds from 1914 and 55 per cent, four-year-olds from 1915 ; while the run of 1920 I 20
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
would contain 45 per cent, five-year-olds from 1915 and 80 per cent, four-year-olds from 1916.
The latter would be more than twice as large, therefore, as the former. It is thus highly
important to establish the constancy or the variability of the age factor, for to establish this
will bring us one step nearer the possibility of predicting future runs.
As a contribution to this end, it was attempted to analyse the run of 1912 into its age
components, and to compare the results with those secured by the writer in 1911, when this
method was used for the first time.
The Grilse.
In 1911 the number of three-year-olds or grilse were so small as to be almost negligible.
No attempt was made to determine the very limited proportion in which they occurred, as it
was difficult to secure enough specimens for examination. It should be recalled that the
grilse of 1911 were developed in their due proportion from the comparatively few eggs
deposited in the "off-year," 1908.
In 1912 the case was far different. The grilse of that year were derived from eggs laid
down in the big year 1909, and from the first of the season to its conclusion, wherever the
Fraser River run was intercepted, the large number of small three-year fish was at once
apparent. Several attempts to estimate the proportion of grilse to full-grown fish were made
August 4th to August 7th, by enumerating them as they passed along the conveyor at the
cannery of the Pacific American Fisheries at Bellingham, Washington. The results of the
different trials were as follows :—
Proportion of Sockeye Grilse in Fraser River Run of 1912.
Total Number.
Number of Grilse.
Proportion of Grilse.
18.6 per cent.
25.9          /;
a    4th	
„    4th	
„    4th	
„    6th 	
„    7th	
16.4       ,,
„    7th	
21.5 per cent.
Other less extensive tests were made at different localities and at various times during
the season, and were all in close agreement with the above, It seems safe to conclude, therefore, that in the Fraser River sockeye run of 1912 about one fish out of every five was a small
three-year-old precocious male. The grilse were thus about half as numerous as the males of
the full-grown fish.
In length, the grilse varied from 16| to 21J inches long, as shown in the following table,.
in which are included 500 individuals taken at random :—
Length in fnches of 500 Grilse Sockeyes.
Length in inches	
Number of specimens...
being 2|
The average length is 19 (18.9) inches. The weight varies from If to 4 lb., the average
lb. The flesh is lighter in colour and liberates less free oil than the full-grown
individuals, and is commercially less valuable. In addition, there is greater waste in cleaning..
To test this, ten grilse averaging 24- lb., ten medium-size sockeyes averaging 5} R>., and ten
of larger size averaging 7-f lb., were cleaned by the usual process, including the use of the
" Iron Chink." When ready for the tins, the grilse had lost 27.1 per cent., the fish of medium
size, 24.6 per cent., and the larger size 22.7 per cent, of their weight.    The grilse are therefore 3 Geo. 5
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
I 21
not a very valuable component of the pack. In former seasons, when fish were abundant
and cheap, they were very generally rejected, or were put up separately as a cheaper grade.
But in 1912 they were generally, though not universally, included with the rest of the
sockeye pack.
The scales of several hundred grilse were examined in an attempt to discover some event
in their past history which could aid in explaining their precocious development, but without
success. The vast majority of them had remained in the lake in which they were hatched
until their second spring, as is the case also with the fish which mature in their fourth and
fifth years. They had grown at the same rate as the latter in the first and the subsequent
years. The factor which determines the age at which maturity is attained is unknown, and
has not as yet been correlated with any peculiar habit or set of external conditions. This is
in accord with our observations on salmon reared in aquaria. A thousand young spring or
chinook salmon, hatched and reared in a single aquarium, in which conditions are as nearly
uniform as they can be made, will include at the close of their first summer a number of
precociously developed males, capable of furnishing functional milt. While such males are
perhaps more frequently found 5 or 6 inches long, among the larger individuals of the colony
this is by no means invariably the case. A number have been observed not exceeding 3J
inches long.    It is evidently, then, not a matter of simple nutrition.
Full-grown Sockeyes.
For comparison with the adult sockeyes constituting the main element of the 1912 run,
we have only a similar examination made by the writer in 1911. The results in the two
years are widely dissimilar. In 1911, out of a total of 500 individuals examined, 271, or
54.2 per cent., were maturing in their fourth year, and 229, or 45.8 per cent., in their fifth
year. Almost half of the pack of 1911, therefore, was composed of individuals five years old,
derived from eggs deposited in 1906. It is apparent how impossible it would have been to
predict accurately the run of 1911, as has been heretofore attempted, solely from the
condition of the spawning-grounds and hatcheries four years previously—that is, in 1907.
But in 1912, the number of five-year fish was so small as to be almost negligible. Five
hundred individuals, examined July 29th, at the cannery of J. H. Todd & Sons at Esquimalt,
B.C., were distributed as shown in the following table:—
Five Hundred Adult Sockeyes of the 1912 Run, grouped by Age, Sex, and Size.
Number or
Length in Inches.
Four Years Old.
Five Years Old.
As will be noted, 454, or 90.8 per cent., were four-year fish, and only 46, or 9.2 per
cent., were in their fifth year. I 22
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
On August 5th a second lot of 500 were investigated at the cannery of the Pacific
American Fisheries at Bellingham, Wash., with results as follows:—
500 Adult Sockeyes of the 1912 Run, grouped by Age, Sex, and Size.
Number of
Length in Inches.
Four Years Old.
Five Years Old.
251 •	
261 •	
In this case, 445, or 89 per cent., were in their fourth year, and 55, or 11 per cent., in
their fifth year.
A third trial was made August 6th at Bellingham, as shown in the following table:—■
Five Hundred Adult Sockeyes of the 1912 Run, grouped by Age, Sex, and Size.
Number of
Length in Inches.
Four Years Old.
Five Years Old.
The result was here identical with that obtained at Esquimalt, 454 (90.8 per cent.) being
four-year-olds, and 46 (9.2 per cent.) five-year-olds. The Bellingham fish were taken in traps
and with purse-seines on the salmon banks and in the Gulf of Georgia, and the Esquimalt fish 3 Geo. 5
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
I 23
in traps located on the southern shore of Vancouver Island, west of Victoria. The close
correspondence of these three tests is sufficiently remarkable, and indicates beyond question
that at the time the examination was made the run consisted everywhere of a homogenous
mixture of four- and five-year fish in definite proportions, nine of the former to one of the
latter. The 1,500 examined gave altogether 90.2 per cent, four-year-olds and 9.8 per cent,
The causes of the great disparity shown in 1911 and 1912 in relative numbers of four-
and five-year fish cannot yet be assigned with certainty, but are to be looked for in conditions
which existed in 1906, 1907, and 1908, the small years of the preceding cycle. The following
may be suggested as possibilities:—
(1.) It is possible that an abnormally large proportion of the 1906 generation may have
delayed maturing until their fifth year. Had this occurred, it should have diminished the size
of the run four years subsequently in 1910, and should have materially increased the run of
1911. It is a valid objection to the theory that 1910 gave an average yield, in the present
condition of the industry, while 1911 was the poorest for many years.
(2.) An alternative theory is to the effect that the season of 1907 may have brought to
the Fraser River spawning-beds so small a number of sockeyes that their progeny, which
matured part as four-year fish in 1911 and part as five-year fish in 1912, would both be
present in very limited numbers. This would explain the heavy percentage of five-year fish in
1911, as well as the light run of that year, and would explain the abnormally light run of five-
year fish in 1912. Its influence on the total size of the run of 1912 would be far less than in
1911, if, as we suppose, the total number of five-year fish produced from any given batch of
eggs is much below the number that mature in four years. This theory would then of itself
explain all the facts, without having recourse to the first suggested above, or to any further
It becomes, then, of unusual interest to recur to the condition of the spawning-beds on
the Fraser River in 1907, as given in the Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries in that year.
While the hatch, both natural and artificial, had been larger in 1906 than during any off-year
of the preceding cycle, we learn that the reverse was true in 1907. In the report of that
year, Mr. J. P. Babcock writes (p. 9): " From an inspection of the spawning-grounds of the
Fraser and its tributaries, I find that a smaller number of sockeye reached them this year
than in any one of the past seven seasons. . . . While the number of eggs secured this
year exceeds by six millions those gathered last year, the number which spawned naturally was
insignificant. A competent observer who lives on the Birkenhead River, the principal stream
of the Harrison-Lillooet Lake Section, states that there was not one sockeye there this year
for every ten last year. In the Shuswap-Adams Lake Section the run of sockeye this season
was small. . . . To the Quesnel Lake Section, the run of sockeye consisted of only a few
hundred fish, and none were observed in the Horsefly. The run to Stuart and Chilco Lakes
was the smallest ever reported."    (Italics mine.)
It seems highly probable, therefore, that the percentage of five-year fish observed in the
run of 1911 (45.8 per cent.) was abnormally high, due to the unusually small number of four-
year fish which resulted from the lean year 1907 ; and, further, that the proportion of five-
year fish observed in the run of 1912 (9.8 per cent.) was abnormally low, owing again to the
small yield of 1907. If there prove to be a relatively constant ratio between the four- and the
five-year fish which develop from any given batch of eggs, such ratio will probably be found
between the extremes given by these two years. But the year 1913 cannot be expected to
throw any light on this question, as the enormous numbers of a big year must consist in overwhelming proportion of four-year olds.
The average weight of the 1912 run agrees closely with that obtained in 1911, though
the latter was from less abundant data. As is shown by the following table, the average for
four-year fish was 5.98 ft. (6.27 in 1911): for five-year fish, 7.38 B>. (7.46 in 1911) :—
Five Hundred Fraser River Sockeye Run of 1912, grouped  by  Weight and Age.
Weight in Pounds.
2 I 24 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
It will be noted that neither in length nor in weight is there any considerable overlapping
between grilse and the older fish. Of 500 grilse examined, only two reached a length of 21J
inches and a weight of 4 ft. Of 1,500 adults, only two were as small as 21 and 21^ inches
long, respectively, and only one weighed as little as 4 ft. This does not include two highly
emaciated and obviously abnormal females, 20| and 21 inches long, of the same size as male
grilse, but four years old. They were evidently dwarfed by malnutrition, but they had
successfully matured their eggs.    No female grilse were seen in 1912.
No attempt will be made here to discuss in detail the early history of individuals
comprising the 1912 run of sockeyes, as we infer it from the structure of their scales. But
certain differences were obvious when comparison was made with the run of the previous year.
In 1911 there was a number of interesting individuals having scales distinguished by large
centres with widely spaced rings. These were interpreted as having migrated oceanwards
immediately on reaching the free-swimming stage. In the run of 1912 there was an almost
total absence of this form. Practically the entire run had developed from fingerlings which
spent their first year in fresh water. The centres of the great majority of scales exhibited a
structure identical with that found in migrating yearlings, taken in the early spring in the
Fraser. The number of rings varied from seven to twenty ; the outermost rings intimately
crowded, tenuous, and usually more or less broken and interrupted. Immediately beyond
them, begin abruptly the wide rings which signal the rapid growth of the second spring,
begun either while still in the lower reaches of the river—in which case an intermediate zone
is formed—or later after they have reached the sea. A very small percentage, however, do
not entirely agree with the above, and have not been satisfactorily accounted for. Their
scales have the centres with closely crowded rings as in those noted, but the nuclear area is
larger than the scales of any yearlings yet captured on their downward migration. The rings
may be as numerous as thirty to thirty-five in number, but give no indication of more than
one year having been spent in the lake. Two alternative theories suggest themselves. Either
these remained in their native lake for one year, like the others with similar but smaller scale
centres, and represent exceptionally large individuals which have thus far eluded capture on
their seaward migration; or they ran to sea immediately on reaching the free-swimming
stage, but found the conditions in the ocean less favourable than in other years, and hence
failed to reach the usual size for yearlings in the sea. The first of these seems the more
probable hypothesis.
I have, etc.,
Charles H. Gilbert,
Professor of Zoology,
Stanford University. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 25
Hon. W. J. Bowser, K.C.,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit that during August, September, and October,
accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Mclntyre, I visited every section of the watershed of
the Fraser River and its tributaries where the salmon are known to spawn in numbers. This
inspection, like those made by me each year from 1901 to 1909, inclusive, was conducted to
ascertain as accurately as possible the number of adult salmon which reached the spawning-
beds, and to study the conditions under which their spawn was deposited.
In every section of the Fraser, except that of Shuswap-Adams Lakes and the Lower
Harrison, a greater number of sockeye salmon were found upon the spawning-beds this year
than in any year since 1901, with the exception, of course, of the years 1905 and 1909, which
were the years of the big runs.
The average life of the sockeye salmon has been shown to be four years, and the size of
the run to the Fraser in any year depends primarily upon the number which deposited their
ova upon the spawning-beds in the fourth preceding year, which makes it especially
interesting to contrast the conditions found this year with those observed in 1904 and  1908.
By reference to the Department's report for 1904, we find the statement that "the
weather conditions were unusually favourable for observation, yet in only one section of the
entire watershed [Lillooet-Harrison Lakes] were fish found in any considerable number. . . .
The number of sockeye which reached the spawning-grounds of the Fraser River this year
was so small as to seriously threaten the destruction of this great industry. The run of
sockeye to the Fraser watershed above the great canyon (which includes the Quesnel, Shuswap,
and Seton-Anderson Lakes Sections) was a failure, and virtually no spawn to produce a future
run was deposited there this year. . . . This statement ... is made after a most
careful inspection of the spawning-grounds during the past three seasons."
It is believed by us that the sockeye which ran in the Fraser in 1908 were hatched in the
Lillooet-Harrison Lake Section in 1904, and that entering the river early they proceeded to
the upper lake sections of the watershed, since, by reference to the Department's report in
1908, we find it stated that "There were more sockeye on the spawning-beds of the headwaters of the Fraser this year than for several preceding ' off-years.' This was notably the
case in the Chilcotin and Chilco Section. . . . Comparing conditions on the Fraser this
year with those of four years ago, the number of sockeye which reached the spawning-beds at
the extreme headwaters was much greater, while the run to the balance of the watershed
appears to have been slightly less. It is apparent, considering the date at which the fish
reached the headwaters, that they must have entered the river early in the season, previous to
the regular fishing season."
From the fact that a greater number of sockeye spawned in the Fraser watershed in 1908
than in 1904, we were not surprised to find that the catch this year was greater than it was
in the former year, and that the number of sockeye found on the spawning-beds was also
greater. We may therefore reasonably anticipate that the run in 1916 will be larger than it
was this year, since a greater number of sockeye spawned in the Fraser than in 1908.
In making such a prediction it must be remembered, however, that there are other factors
which must be given full consideration. We may with safety conclude that, if the number of
sockeye which spawned in the watershed of the Fraser in a given year is small, the number of
young produced by their spawning will be limited, and that the number of adults returning
four years hence will also be small; but it does not necessarily follow that the run four years
hence will be larger because of increased propagation this year, since the food conditions in
the ocean where they mature may be far less favourable to the hatch of 1912 than they were
in 1908, and the loss during the seaward migration and the three years of their life in the
sea may be far greater. However, under equally favourable conditions, it would follow that
the greater the number of young hatched, the greater would be the return. I 26 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
Spawning Sockeye in the Chilcotin-Chilco Section.
The numbers of sockeye salmon which reached the Chilcotin-Chilco Section of the Fraser
this year was measurably larger than in any off-year since 1901. They were greatly in excess
of those that reached this section in 1908. There were very few sockeve in this section in
The first of the run to this section this year reached what is known as " Fish Canyon,"
on the Chilcotin River, some nine miles above its junction with the Fraser, on July 28th.
During the two weeks following, the Chilcotin Indians at that point caught with their
dip-nets upwards of 5,000 sockeye. They report that the run was one of the best off-year
runs in many years.
In the canyon of the Chilcotin just below Hanceville the Indians from the Anaham
Reservation began catching sockeye on August 3rd. During the run they captured upwards
of 6,000.    They also reported that the run was the best off-year run for many years.
At Indian Bridge, a narrow canyon in the Chilco River, a few miles above its junction
with the Chilcotin, the Indians caught approximately 4,000 sockeye. All the sockeye which
run in the Chilcotin River are seeking the waters of Chilco and Whitewater Lakes, which are
tributary to the Chilco River. They are the largest lakes in the catchment of the Chilcotin
River. Chilco Lake is one of the largest lakes, if not the largest, in the Fraser basin.
As the greater proportion of the waters running in the Chilcotin River come from this lake,
it is not clear why the stream should have been given a different name after passing a few
miles west of Alexis Creek. Above its junction with the Chilco River, the branch known as
the Chilcotin is a stream of inconsiderable proportions.
Although the run of sockeye to this section entered the Chilcotin River in July, it appears
to have moved up-stream less rapidly than usual. The advance of the run had just reached
the outlet of Chilco Lake at the time of our visit on September 7th and 8th.
More than 10 per cent, of the sockeye which we found in the smoke-houses of the Chilcotin
Indians were three-year-old fish. The total number of these three-year-old fish was much
greater than in any former year. Judging from the number of sockeye caught by the Chilcotin
Indians and those which we saw in the rivers and above their fishing camps, I am convinced
that the run to this section this year was far greater than in any of the last ten years, with
the exception, of course, of the big year runs.
Fraser and Stewart Lake Section.
Owing to the extreme low water in the Fraser River above Soda Creek and the fact of
the regular passenger-steamer having been wrecked, we were unable to visit any of the waters
of this section. It is noticeable that as far back as we have records (and some of the first
salmon records made in the Province were written of this section) very few salmon have
sought this section except in the years of the big run.
The records of Simon Fraser and his successors in the Hudson's Bay Company's service
in this section show that they commonly obtained their supply of smoked salmon in the off-year
from the tributaries of the Skeena, and occasionally drew upon the catch made at points
farther down the Fraser, and even at Shuswap Lake. Only one year in four could they obtain
a sufficient supply from the Fraser and Stewart Lake Section. In was not surprising, therefore, to learn from the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fraser Lake and Fort George
that very few sockeye reached this section this year.
Mr. W. Bunting, agent of the Hudson's Bay Company's Post at Fraser Lake, under date
of October 12th, writes: "The Indians here first caught sockeye salmon on July 25th, and
they caught a number every day for a week or two following that date, after which
they caught a half-dozen or so daily per family until the end of August. They also caught a
few spring salmon that month. The run of salmon this year has been the smallest since 1909,
which was a year of the big run."
Quesnel Lake Section.
Quesnel Lake and its tributaries is one of the most important sockeye-salmon spawning
sections in the basin of the Fraser River. It will be recalled that there is a dam at the
outlet of Quesnel Lake, which was constructed by a mining company for the purpose of impounding in the lake its entire outflow during the late summer and fall, so that the bed of Quesnel 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 27
River might be exposed for mining. Following its completion in 1898, no salmon gained
access to the lake until 1904, when this Department raised the blockade by the construction,
in the raceway of the dam, of an effective fishway.
As every salmon which enters Quesnel Lake can be seen as it passes through the fishway,
the total number which enters the lake during the season can be estimated with greater
accuracy than at any other section of the watershed of the Fraser, with the exception of
Seton Lake, where all the fish pass through the hatchery weirs.
Since the construction of the fishway the Department has placed a watchman there every
season for the purpose of guarding the fish from molestation, and to determine the numbers
which pass into the lake. The report of Robert Winkley, who has lived at the outlet of
Quesnel Lake ever since the dam was constructed, and who for the past four years has acted
as such watchman for the Department, states that the first sockeye made their appearance at
the dam this year on July 30th, and that from August 4th to 28th many hundreds passed
through the fishway every hour. The run ceased on August 30th. Between September 5th
and 12 th there was also a small run. Mr. Winkley concludes his report with the statement:
" In my opinion the number of sockeye which came up Quesnel River and entered the lake
this year were much larger than in any year, other than in the big year runs, since the dam
was finished in 1898.    It has been a good year."
No sockeye reached Quesnel Lake in 1904 or 1908, though a considerable number were
noted there in 1906 and 1907.
We reached the lake on September 16th, and during the week that we remained in that
vicinity a few sockeye were seen daily passing through the fishway. Owing to a shortage of
gasolene we were unable to visit all of the many tributaries of the lake. From trappers we
learned that there were spawning sockeye in most of the beds. From white settlers residing
on the Horsefly River, one of the most important tributaries frequented by sockeye, we learned
that the run in that river was exceptionally large for an off-year.
The salmon that enter the Quesnel Lake District are but little disturbed, owing to the
fact that no Indians live on either Quesnel River or Lake and few whites. A few Indians
live on the Fraser below the Town of Quesnel and the mouth of the Quesnel River, who smoke
such salmon as they can catch with dip-nets, but as the character of the river-banks are not
favourable to their methods of fishing their catch is, even in big years, inconsiderable. Being
free from molestation from either Indians or whites, and having only their natural enemies to
contend with, a greater number of the salmon which reach this section deposit their spawn
than in either the Chilcotin-Chilco or the Harrison-Lillooet Lake Sections, where the number
caught by the Indians is large.
As the owners of the dam at the lake appear to have no further use for it, it is not being
kept in repairs. The wall-timbers of the race are rotting, and in two places in the north wall
they have fallen, exposing the gravel-bank ; and the lower end of the race has been undermined to such an extent as to carry away the greater portion of the apron. The boom
formerly maintained some hundreds of yards above the dam has given way, resulting in a
considerable amount of drift accumulating at the gates at the head of the raceway. The dam
appears to have no present or prospective value to the owners. Its only service at present is
to support the wagon-bridge maintained by the Government. If the raceway is not kept in
repair, the first very high water probably will carry away the north end of the dam and the
wagon-bridge will be destroyed.
As it is locally important that a bridge be maintained at that point, the Government may
well consider the desirability of keeping the raceway in repair, although, as Mr. Robert
Rutherford, the Road Superintendent of the district, suggests it might be cheaper to provide
cement piers to support the south end of the bridge and remove that end of the dam, and thus
permit the river to flow in its old channel, and all danger of the destruction of the north end
of the bridge removed.
By the construction of the dam the water-level of the lake was raised some 5 or 6 feet.
In my judgment the spawning-beds along the lake-shore and near the mouths of many of its
tributaries would be improved by the removal of the dam and the restoration of the lake to
its former level.
Seton-Anderson Lakes Section.
The run of the sockeye to the Seton-Anderson Lakes Section was larger this year than
in any other off-year of which we have a record.    The hatchery at Seton Lake this year I 28 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
secured 11,000,000 sockeye-eggs, while in 1904 only 827,000 were secured, and in 1908 but
This season the first sockeye entered our hatchery weirs at the outlet of Seton Lake on
July 25th, between that date and August 17th, when this run ended, 2,000 unusually large
prime fish had entered the weirs, but being from six weeks to two months in advance of their
spawning-time, the weirs were opened and the fish permitted to pass to the spawning-grounds
of the lake. With the exception of 1906, this is the largest number of early-running sockeye
which have reached the hatchery in an off-year since its construction in 1903. On September
1st the sockeye again began entering the hatchery weirs, and by the 27th of that month
upwards of 10,000 were impounded in the seining-pool. The run continued until October Sth.
The fish which passed through the weirs after September 10th were in poor condition, being
badly scarred about the head, and many showed hook and spear wounds. Superintendent
Ledgerwood estimates that more than half the fish which came to the station between
September 15th and 30th were mutilated more or less by hook or spear. Many were so badly
wounded that they died. During September we removed over 6,700 dead sockeye from the
weirs that had apparently died from injuries received before entering Lake Creek.
We attribute the exceptionally large collection of sockeye-eggs at the Seton Lake
Hatchery this year, and the battered and wounded condition of the fish that came to the
station after September 10th, to the low stage of water in the Fraser River, which prevented
their passing through the canyon half a mile above the mouth of Bridge River and five miles
above the point where Cayoosh Creek enters it. The salmon which run to Seton Lake pass
from the Fraser River into Cayoosh Creek, and after journeying up that stream for a mile turn
into Lake Creek, the outlet stream of Seton Lake. The river-bed of the Fraser where the
blockade occurred is so narrow and so filled with projecting rocks that even during ordinary
stages the water rushes through with such velocity as to give the sockeye considerable difficulty
in passing. For the first time in the ten years which I have kept watch there, the water this
year was so low that the sockeye found their passage completely blocked by September 10th.
After battering themselves against the sharp rocks, in their vain efforts to reach the waters
above, they dropped back to the mouth of Cayoosh Creek, and entering that stream reached the
hatchery weirs. The waters of the Fraser were too discoloured to trace the movements of
these salmon from the canyon back to Cayoosh Creek, but the fish that reached the hatchery
the last of September and the first of October were so scarred about the head as to convince
any one who had seen the bruised fish in the pools below the canyon that they received their
injuries there, and being unable to pass up the Fraser had turned back to enter the first
available lake-fed tributary stream. The canyon in the Fraser where the blockade occurred
this year has always been a favourite fishing-place for the neighbouring Indians. When Simon
Fraser made his eventful return journey up the Fraser River in 1808, he found the Indians
catching and smoking salmon there, and he purchased a supply for food. The Indians establish
camps on both sides of the river-banks every year. Those on the east side comprise Indians
from the Clinton Section, and those on the west side come from Bridge River and Lillooet.
In 1904 and 1908 they caught very few fish at this point. There was never more than
a few hundred fish at a time in either camp in those years. This year, because of the blockade
and the increase in the number which came up the river, the Indians caught and smoked
not less than 15,000 sockeye and spring salmon.
During seasons of high water they take most of the fish by means of dip-nets, though
the Indians on the east bank commonly use gaff-hooks. This year the fish became so massed
in the pools and channels on both sides that more fish than could be used were easily taken by
means of gaff-hooks.
At the beginning of the blockade they killed all the sockeye and spring salmon they could
catch. Later in the run, having as many sockeye as they wished, they began throwing back
into the river such sockeye as were hooked, and retained only the springs. Many of these
sockeye were so badly injured by the gaffs that they could not long survive. Others were so
badly injured that they died before spawning. Thece is no question but that the injured fish
which were observed at the Seton Lake Hatchery, and which died there, received their injuries
at the hands of the Indians who used gaff-hooks in the canyon or from battering themselves
against the rocks.
Owing to the ease with which salmon could be taken in the canyon this year, more fish
were caught daily than the Indians could dress and hang upon the smoke-frames. As freshly
caught salmon are more easily cleaned and stretched for smoking than those caught on the 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 29
preceding day, the numbers taken on many days were greater than the Indian women—who
clean and stretch all the fish taken by the men—could handle, and in consequence were left
to rot among the rocks where they had been thrown. I have never seen such wanton waste
of salmon by Indians as I saw at their camps in this canyon this year. Remonstrance was of
no avail. The men claimed that they had taken very few fish since 1909—a year of the big
run—and that they would use all they were taking. As a rule, the Indians in the interior do
not take more fish than they can use. Heretofore I have not found occasion for finding fault
with them on this score. The Chilcotin Indians, even in the years of great abundance, cure
the heads and ova as well as the flesh of the salmon they capture, and while the other Indians
along the Fraser are not so provident, there is ordinarily little evidence of waste in any of
their camps.
After witnessing these conditions, you will recall that I at once forwarded you a memorandum suggesting that steps should be taken to remove the obstructions in the channel and
provide a safe and easy passage-way for all future runs. I also sent you photographs taken
this year, and also in 1909, showing the nature of the channel at high and low water. You
thereafter authorized me to take such steps as were necessary to secure for the salmon a
passage-way over this point. I therefore arranged with Road Superintendent Bell to blast
out a channel in the rocks on the west bank. This work will be undertaken in February,
when the river ordinarily reaches its lowest stage. I consulted Indian Agent Graham, who
has charge of the Indians in this district, regarding the waste of salmon by the Indians at the
canyon this season, and was assured that he would give the matter close attention hereafter
and prevent his wards from taking more salmon than they needed. The opening-up of the
channel will undoubtedly prevent a recurrence of this season's waste by the Indians, since an
easy passage for the salmon through this stretch of the river will be afforded, and the massing
of fish prevented, which made possible the wholesale slaughter above referred to.
An interesting incident of this blockade serves to further demonstrate the fact that
sockeye salmon do not enter the tributaries of the Fraser which do not proceed from large
lakes. Bridge River is a much larger stream than Cayoosh Creek, and its mouth is less than
a mile below the canyon where the sockeye were blockaded. There are no lakes of any size
in the watershed of Bridge River, and none of the blockaded sockeye appeared to have
entered that stream. All of the sockeye which turned back from the canyon passed by the
mouth of Bridge River and proceeded some four miles down the Fraser to the mouth of
Cayoosh Creek, which they entered and thence passed to the weirs at the Seton Lake
Shtjswap-Adams Lakes.
There appears to have been no run of sockeye this year to either Shuswap or Adams
Lakes, the source of the Thompson River, which is the largest tributary of the Fraser. No
salmon were caught at any of the spawn-collection stations in that section this year. Practically no sockeye have reached this section in any of the off-years since 1901. My report for
1904 states that in that year only a few hundred sockeye were found there; and my report
for 1908 states : " I did not see a single sockeye in Adams River or in Adams Lake, and was
told by both Indians and whites that there were no salmon there this year. . . . Scott
Creek appears, as usual, to have attracted most of the sockeye which entered Shuswap Lake
this year . . . The hatchery on Shuswap Lake secured less than 500,000 sockeye-eggs
from all points on the lake."
This year I visited this section the last of September. The Indians at the outlet of
Adams Lake had but thirty-seven sockeye hanging on their smoke-frames, and sixteen of
these were three-year-old fish, and I saw less than forty sockeye in the pools in Adams River.
Mr. Mitchell, Superintendent of the hatchery at Granite Creek, on Salmon Arm of Shuswap
Lake, told me that no sockeye had entered their weirs at their egg-collecting stations.
The Harrison-Lillooet Lakes Section.
The number of soekeye which reached the spawning-beds of the Harrison-Lillooet Lakes
this year appears to have been far less than in either 1904 or 1908. Although the run of
sockeye to Lillooet Lake, at the head of the watershed of this section, appears to have
equalled, if not exceeded, the run in 1908, the run in to the streams at the southern end of the
watershed (Harrison Lake, Morris Creek, and Cultus Lake) was very much less than in
either 1904 or 1908.    In fact, it was the smallest on record.    The salmon which spawn in the I 30 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
Lillooet Lake Section reach there from the Fraser through Harrison River and Lake, and the
Lillooet River, the latter carrying the outflow from Lillooet Lake to Harrison Lake. The
run through Lillooet River was first noted this season in the latter part of July, and was at
its height on August 15th. The first sockeye reached the hatchery weirs at the head of
Lillooet Lake on August 18th. The run was pronounced by September 4th, and the hatchery
was filled with 25,000,000 sockeye-eggs on September 30th. In 1908 the total collection of
sockeye-eggs amounted to 22,000,000. The hatchery had not been established in 1904, but
the run that year was large. Mr. Graham, the hatchery Superintendent, is of the opinion
that the run this year was greater than it was four years ago. He points out, however, that
the Indians, who of late years have caught many sockeye before they reached the hatchery
weirs, were this year prevented from doing so by a constable placed on the reservation. In
consequence a greater portion of the run was secured by his egg-collectors. The Indians,
moreover, obtained a full supply for smoking, as they were given the fish after the eggs had
been expressed.
The streams in this section were very low this year, and as the hatchery received the ova
of most of the fish which entered Lillooet Lake there appears to have been little natural
There was a very poor run of sockeye to the egg-collecting stations on Harrison Lake,
Morris Creek, and Cultus Lake, the southern end of this section. Only 2,000,000 sockeye-eggs
were collected from the tributaries of Harrison Lake, and but 500,000 from Morris Creek.
In addition to the 2,5(10,000 sockeye-eggs, the hatchery at Harrison Lake obtained 5,615,000
spring-salmon eggs, 2,153,000 cohoe, and 1,625,000 dog.
The decline in the run to this section is remarkable. Up to 1901 Morris Creek was the
only egg-collecting station operated on the Fraser. Up to 1908 from 10,000,000 to 20,000,000
sockeye-eggs were annually taken there. Since that year the run has steadily declined, and
this year, as stated, only 500,000 eggs were obtained there. As the southern end of the
Harrison-Lillooet Lake Section has always been regarded as the spawning-ground of the late-
running sockeye, it would seem that either there was no late run this season or that the fish
that did enter the Fraser were captured before reaching there. The failure of the sockeye to
reach this section this season is the more remarkable, because the numbers which were
observed on all the other spawning sections of the Fraser, with the exception of Shuswap-
Adams Lakes, appear to have been pronouncedly greater than in any other off-year on the
Fraser since I began my observations in 1901.
I have, etc.,
John Pease Babcock,
Assistant to the  Commissioner.
Victoria,   B.C., December 1st, 1912. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 31
Hon.   W. J. Bowser, K.C.,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—I beg to submit the following report upon my investigations of the watershed of
the Naas River for the season of 1912 :—
I began an inspection of the spawning-grounds on August 18th, and was so engaged
until the end of September.
On August 18th, in company with Mr. Babcock, I went via Stewart to Medziadin Lake
and River. We found the water in the lake and river higher than I have seen it in the five
years I have visited this section. There were not as many salmon congregated at the foot of
the great falls in the Medziadin River as in other years, owing to the stage of extra high
water, which permitted the sockeye to pass easily over the centre of the falls. Very few
salmon were observed in the lake in August, but on my return there the last of September
the waters were simply alive with maturing sockeye.
The amount of spawn cast on the spawning-beds there this year must have been large,
greater, I think, than in any of the preceding years. Several families of Naas River Indians
annually camp on the north bank of the Medziadin River at the falls, and there catch and
smoke a winter's supply of salmon. They had quit fishing at the time of our first visit to the
falls this year, having taken an average of 500 fish per family, or 2,500 this year.
They told us that the run this year was early and large, and that owing to high water
the fish had not been delayed in passing to the river above. It will be recalled that on previous
visits I have reported that at low stages of water the fish had great difficulty in passing over
these falls, and that there was need of a fish-ladder.
The Indians reported that at all their camps lower down the river their smoke-houses
were filled with salmon, and that the run of fish to all the tributaries below the Medziadin
had been abundant.
The Department has, since my first inspection of the watershed of the Naas Biver, held
that there must be other and extensive lakes, beside the Medziadin Lake, which were tributary
to the Naas, where sockeye spawned. Heretofore I had not been up the Naas beyond the
mouth of Medziadin River, though on each visit to that point I had observed that large
numbers of sockeye salmon were continuing up the Naas.
After visiting the Medziadin Section in company with two able and experienced woodsmen, I went north to locate additional spawning-grounds. Following northerly the course of
the Hanna River, a tributary of Medziadin Lake, we proceeded for ten days. We had a
trying time. It was raining most of the time, and the going was very heavy, as there are no
trails. After passing over a divide we reached a large lake, which we proceeded to traverse,
passing the whole of the shore-line and going up every tributary.
There are no indications that any number of Indians or whites have ever lived in this
vicinity.    We saw neither cabins nor camps, but found an Indian grave and an old canoe.
This lake has not heretofore been reported. It lies about forty miles to the north-west of
Medziadin Lake, and is on the west side of the Naas River. From its outlet the lake runs east
by west for close to eleven miles. I submit herewith a rough sketch-map of the lake and its
tributaries. It has an elevation of close to 1,650 feet. With the exception of the low-lying
country on the south shore, which extends for eight miles, the lake is surrounded by high
snow-capped and glacier-capped mountains, which rise abruptly from the lake-shore. The
waters of the lake are discoloured, being nearly the colour of milk. The shore-line is strewn
with driftwood and debris from the heavy slides.
There are two large rivers at the head of the lake, and many smaller streams. Most of
the latter do not enter the lake directly, the mouths being blocked with gravel from the big
slides, the water seeping through.    We went up the two river-channels for four miles, but saw I 32 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
no salmon, the water being too discoloured. Neither of these streams appear to offer suitable
spawning-areas. The lake is vastly different from Medziadin. There are several islands and
large bays along the south shore. I estimate the length of the lake at close to eighteen
miles, with an average width of a mile. As the lake has not heretofore been reported to the
Government, I have the honour to name it Lake Bowser, after the Honourable the. Commissioner of Fisheries, W. J. Bowser, K.C.
On reaching the lake, we built a fine raft 25 feet long, and proceeded to navigate the
entire shore-line. On the second day out I found the body of a female sockeye without a head.
The eggs were in a more advanced stage towards maturity than those taken from the sockeye
at Medziadin Falls two weeks earlier. I saw red-coloured sockeye break water all the way up
the north shore, within two miles of the head of the lake. The lake-bottom along this section
is covered with fine gravel, and appears to be well suited to spawning salmon. In the main,
Lake Bowser is, I am well satisfied, a great spawning-ground for sockeye salmon. I spent a
week in an inspection of the lake, and came out by the outlet stream, which appears to carry
about the same volume of water as is discharged by Medziadin Lake.
There are no rapids, and the waters are placid for the three miles from the lake to the
point where it joins the Cottonwood River. We saw no salmon in this stretch of the river,
the waters being much discoloured. We did, however, see an eagle take a sockeye from the
water.    We shot at him and he dropped it.    It was a mature sockeye.
There is a rapid in the river just above its junction with the Cottonwood. The Cottonwood has its source to the south-west of Lake Bowser. We went down the Cottonwood about
four miles, and then being unable to continue on account of hard travelling, and our provisions
being limited, we started back to Medziadin Lake. We returned by a more easterly direction
than on the outward journey, and found the going much easier. As already stated, we found
the gravelled shores of Medziadin Lake covered with spawning sockeye.
We returned by way of Stewart.
I have, etc.,
C. P. Hickman. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 33
Hon. W. J. Bowser, K. C,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B. C.
Sir,—As per your instructions, we visited the Skeena River salmon-spawning beds, and
now beg to submit the following report thereon for the year 1912 :—
To facilitate your following this report we enclose herewith a rough drawing of Babine
Lake and Creeks.
We arrived at Babine Lake on September 6 th and the following day visited Neelkitkwa
Creek, which is about ten miles from the Hudson's Bay Post and just at the entrance to Babine
River. This creek is a very good creek for spawning purposes, but very few salmon were in
it at this date; we were informed, however, that large numbers of sockeye enter this creek
later in the season. The water was very low in the creek, and in many places it was almost
entirely blocked with log-jams and other obstacles.
In Babine Lake, between this creek and the Hudson's Bay Post, is one of the principal
spawning-beds of Babine Lake, and we saw large numbers of spring and sockeye salmon playing around there. This is where the Indians of Babine Lake catch most of their fish, and, in
speaking to them about the run of fish, they all state that the run of salmon this year is very
poor, and that they have great difficulty in catching enough for their winter's supply.
A fair estimate of the total amount of salmon caught by the Indians yearly in Babine
Lake is 80,00 fish, or about 7,000 casks.
We visited Tachek Creek on September 10th. We found the sockeye run to this creek
very poor compared to previous years, and the Indians who catch most of their fish here state
that it has been a great many years since they have had such a poor run of salmon. Mostly
sockeye and a few spring run to this creek. We noticed a large number of small sockeye 12
to 16 inches long, similar to the ones Mr. Babcock and Dr. Gilbert were anxious to get samples
of when they visited the Skeena River this summer. The Indians also drew our attention to
these fish, and stated that this was the first time they had noticed them in such large numbers ;
they also stated that they had never seen the water so low in the creek as this year. We went
four miles up the creek to the falls at the entrance to Fulton Lake. On our way down the
creek we came across the Babine Lake Hatchery people dragging the creek with a net to get
the fish for spawn. In this operation they walk up and down the creek, usually in the best-
seeded part of the creek, trampling underfoot and dislodging large quantities of eggs already
deposited. We watched them make three sweeps, and, although they caught 150 to 200 salmon,
only a very few were ripe fish, and the balance they gave to the Indians.
We visited Perrie Creek on September 11th. We found a fair number of sockeye in this
creek, but a very poor number when compared with previous years. The water in this creek
was very low, and full of log and brush jams, and about half a mile up the creek we found two
beaver-dams entirely obstructing the passage of fish.    We broke down the dams.
We visited Fifteen-mile Creek on September 12th. We found the run of sockeye to this
creek very poor. We went up the creek about a mile, but the water was so low that it was
with great difficulty that the salmon could get up that far. There were also a large number
of small sockeye in this creek. The Stewart Lake Indians fish in this creek, and they report
the fish very scarce. The Stewart Lake Hatchery people were spawning fish on this creek in
very much the same manner as already stated ; the Babine Hatchery people were operating
on Tachek Creek.
We arrived at Beaver Creek on September 13th and proceeded up the creek for about
eight miles to where the Stewart Lake Hatchery people had been obtaining their spawn. The
salmon in this creek were very scarce indeed compared to previous years. The Stewart Lake
Indians receive a large number of fish from the hatchery people here after they have been
spawned, and they also fish in the lake at the mouth of the creek, and they report a very poor run
of salmon; in fact, they were far short of their winter's supply, and some of them had gone down
to the entrance of the lake to Babine River in an endeavour to get salmon there. This creek
is also full of log-jams and brush and large boulders, which greatly obstruct the passage of
salmon.    The water in this creek was also very low.
3 I 34
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
We reached the Stewart Lake Hatchery on September 13th, walking over from Babine
Lake, about eight miles. Stewart Lake, of course, is tributary to the Fraser, but it is supplied
with eggs from Babine Lake, which is tributary to the Skeena. The capacity of this hatchery
is about 8,000,000 eggs. On this date they had nearly 5,000,000 eggs, over 3,000,000 of which
were obtained from Beaver Creek, and the balance from Fifteen-mile Creek, and they expected
to get the balance from Beaver Creek to fill up the hatchery. But in our opinion salmon were
a very scarce commodity when we were there. We might also mention that when we were at
the hatchery we saw in the creek there a large number of small fish, very similiar to female
sockeye in full spawning livery. We were informed that these fish run to this creek every
year and spawn; they are similiar in every respect to the sockeye, but very small, running
from 10 to 14 inches in length.
On September 16th we visited a creek at the head of Wright Bay. This creek had
entirely dried up, and we found several dead sockeye in the creek. Salmon must have run in
this creek in previous years, as we found an Indian barricade there and several old traps.
We arrived at Babine Lake Hatchery, situated on Salmon Creek, on September 19th.
The water on this creek has never been known to have been so low as this year, and to enable
the salmon to ascend this creek the hatchery people had concentrated the water by cleaning
out a small passage up the centre of the creek. This was certainly a good idea and a great
assistance to natural propagation ,but the water was so low in the creek that the salmon were
unable to enter Gordeau Lake at the head, and were returning down the creek to where the
hatchery people were spawning them. We saw quite a few steelhead in this creek, and we
were informed cohoes make a very good run here. The run of sockeye to this creek exceeds
the run of previous years, and the hatchery people fully expect to fill their supply of ova from
this creek, with the exception of some 300,000 eggs obtained from Tachek Creek. This
hatchery has a capacity of about 8,000,000 eggs. As this is the fifth year of operating this
hatchery, it would appear that this hatchery has been instrumental in restocking this creek;
but if this is so, then it would also be reasonable to argue that the operations of the Stewart
Lake Hatchery and the Babine Hatchery on the other creeks of Babine have partly depleted
the supply of salmon there. The hatchery people have built three barricades and pens in
which to corral the salmon for spawning purposes, but while we were there they were tramping
all over the creeks with hand-nets catching the salmon. This is a practice that in our opinion
should be stopped. The Indians catch many of their salmon in much the same way, and in
this way must destroy a tremendous amount of eggs already deposited by natural propagation.
We believe that if more care were exercised by the hatcheries in obtaining their spawn,
and a little money spent every spring in cleaning out and improving the creeks, and the
Indians made to exercise more care in catching their salmon, all this would be attended with
beneficial results by an increased salmon run.
We visited the Moricetown Indian Village on September 24th. The Indians inform us
that, so far as they are able to judge, the run up the Bulkley River has this year been a fair
average run in all classes of fish—i.e., sockeye, steelheads, spring, and cohoes. On account of
the low water in the river, caused by dry weather, the salmon during the later part of the
season have been unable to get above the falls at Moricetown. These falls are only about 10
feet high, and could very easily be removed sufficiently to allow the passage of salmon at all
stages of water. We watched the salmon jumping in an attempt to get over the falls, and
although we watched for over an hour and saw hundreds leap, not one succeeded in getting
above the falls.
At Blackwater we are informed that up to August 20th the salmon were making a fair
average run. The Dominion Government Overseer also states that the Indians have again
been barricading the river up there. As this Overseer is only able to make this trip once a
year, we believe this is not enough, and that an Overseer should visit these waters at least
three or four times during the season.
We may also state that while at Babine Lake we saw some splendid samples of whitefish,
also rainbow trout.    These fish were common at 4 and 5 ft. weigbt.
Hazelton, B.C., September 26th, 1912.
We have, etc.,
Alexander  Forsyth,
T. G. Wynn,
Fishery Overseers. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 35
Hon.   W. J. Bowser, K.C.,
Commissioner of Fisheries,   Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—In obedience to your instructions, I with two Indian and one white assistants
visited the salmon-spawning beds situated in Oweekayno Lake, Rivers Inlet, leaving Rivers
Inlet Cannery on September 14th ultimo. I proceeded at once to the head of the lake and
commenced my inspection with the Cheo River.
Cheo River.—This river possesses very good spawning-beds for a distance of about five
miles, having a good gravelly bottom and containing no log-jams or rapids which would
prevent salmon getting up it, until they reach the falls, which are about six miles from the
mouth. These falls are about 20 feet in height and impossible to remove. From this point
the river is full of rapids and boulders. At the time of my visit there were not many fish in
this river, the run not having yet commenced.    The salmon generally run here in October.
Wak Wash River.—This is a fine stream for salmon, being literally packed with sockeye,
together with a few springs. There are a great many log-jams here, but none of them prevent
salmon getting up.     For about four miles from this point upwards is a continuation of falls.
Lndian River.—This river has plenty of salmon. For about half a mile at this point are
large falls about 50 feet high which are impossible to remove. There are no logs or rapids
Shumahalt River.—This river is about thirty miles in length and is very good for salmon.
I saw an abundance of sockeye, and am told by Indians that a great many cohoes also go
up here, but at the time of my visit they had not commenced to run up this stream. This
river is full of log-jams, one of them being exceptionally large. This jam is about 500 yards
long and from six to twelve logs in height. It was caused by the river changing its course
five or six years ago, and the trees fell from both sides across it. The water here is from 12
to 15 feet in depth; therefore the fish have no difficulty in passing this or any other jam in
this river. Four miles up the river from here are three falls about 9 or 10 feet high. These
were caused by a rock-slide seven or eight years ago. If these were removed they would
open up about twenty miles of fine gravelly spawning-beds, which, owing to these falls, the
fish are unable to get to. The cost of this work would be between $3,000 and $4,000, it being
very difficult to get supplies up there. It would be necessary to do this in the spring, when
freight could be taken by canoe to the log-jam, a distance of eight miles, and from there a
road would have to be cut through the woods to the falls, a distance of about four miles more.
I consider it would be cheaper and quicker to make this road than it would be to remove the
log-jam, there being several small jams between here and the falls, and it would be necessary
to haul this immense number of logs ashore, which, owing to the dense bush and steep banks,
would be a difficult and expensive piece of work.
Zeneesee Creek.—This is a splendid stream about two miles in length, with no logs or
obstructions of any kind. Salmon are fairly plentiful, but it is a little early yet for this creek,
the main run generally being in October. The hatchery has a camp here and obtains a large
number of spawn every year from this place.
Markwell River.—This river is full of small logs and rapids, which, in my opinion, are all
easily passable by salmon. I saw a few springs and sockeye, but this is noted as a poor stream
for fish, they seeming to prefer its tributary, the Neuchants River. At the head of this
Markwell River are falls which would prevent fish going higher, but, the removal of these
would be very expensive, and would only open about half a mile of river which is too rocky to
be of any use as spawning-beds, and I would not care to recommend its being done.
Neuchants River.—This river is about twenty miles in length. The first three miles are
very good, there being no obstructions of any kind, and is very well stocked with sockeye.
The remaining seventeen miles are all rapids and boulders, and I do not think anything could
be done with this part of the river, the bed being practically all rock and of no use as a
spawning-ground. I 36 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
Asklum Creek.—This is a splendid salmon stream containing five miles of good
spawning-beds. There are a lot of logs, but no falls, and the fish easily get right up to the
mountains. The creek is well stoeked with sockeye. The hatchery has a camp here, from
which it obtains a good supply of spawn every year.
Dalich River.—This river has about 500 yards of rapids where it empties into the lake,
but the fish have no difficulty in passing them. About ten miles up the river are six falls from
8 to 20 feet in height. It would be almost impossible to make these passable to salmon, owing
to the enormous amount of rock it would be necessary to remove in order to get the level.
There are about four miles of very indifferent spawning grounds ahead of the falls. I could
not estimate the cost of this work, but it would be immense.    Salmon are fairly good here.
Qenap Creek.—This is a fine stream three miles in length, and is well stocked with fish.
There are no falls or rapids, but plenty of logs, which, however, are no obstruction to fish.
The hatchery has a camp here from which it takes 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 eggs yearly.
Oweekano Lake.—This fresh-water lake is about 20 feet above sea-level, is thirty-eight
miles in length, and its tributaries are fourteen rivers and creeks. There are a lot of seal and
beaver about this water, also an abundance of bear, black and grizzly, goats and deer. At
the time of my visit there were a great many sockeye here, which I presume were not ripe for
spawning and would eventually find their way to the rivers and creeks.
I would suggest that the best time to visit the spawning-beds for the purpose of examining
the extent of the creeks would be in the early part of April, when it would be possible to get
up to the head of them, and would take from six weeks to two months ; and for the purpose
of seeing the salmon spawning, the best time would be about the first week in October, when
the principal run is on.
I have, etc.,
F. Abley,
Fisheries Overseer.
Victoria, B.C., October 5th, 1912. Shell-bod.  Oyster  Harbour.
Indian   woman   digging   for   cockles.    The   stick
Is   used  to feel for them.
r.   •.  ~'::bl<-'
^-A ••'..-".i<i.,i.i-. ...-.'■■   • ,.*..■■
**^ -iT^ ~ . -^      ' '■   'rr.
An  Indian   clam-digger's   canoe  and  baskets.  3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 37
By William F. Thompson, Stanford University.
I. Introduction.
At present the value of the clams marketed in British Columbia is overshadowed by that
of oysters, native and eastern, but they are nevertheless a valuable asset, both commercially
and as an article of use by coast inhabitants or campers. The utilization of the clam-supply
by the white population has barely begun, and at present but a small area is actually dug.
There are three canneries operating at present—one at Sidney, one at Nanaimo, and one on
the Queen Charlotte Islands. The first named preserves about 2,000 cases of 48-ft. tins each
season, but the yield of the other two is yet to be investigated. Beside this canning industry,
clams are sold fresh almost the whole year—more when the tides are good and when the clams
are supposed to be in good condition than at other times. The trade in fresh clams is
confined in large part to the two large cities of Vancouver and Victoria, as in the smaller
towns there is usually little profit in carrying such stock in the fish-stores. A conservative
estimate of the total value of the clams marketed per year would be $25,000.* This is, of
course, only tentative and incomplete, but serves to indicate the relative commercial value of
the clam industry at present. It must be borne in mind, however, that the money value is,
or will be, overshadowed by the utilization of the beds by the campers and people who desire
messes for themselves. A very good example of this is the part the beds play in the social
economy of the Indians.
The actual market value of clams per pound approaches that of oysters, being in some
cases 3 cents. This is due in part to the fact that the clam industry is not organized as the
oyster industry is, and because the greater proportion of cost accrues in handling. The
irregular nature of the digging, because of the tides, also has its effect.
In the consideration of the following report, it must be borne in mind that the acreage of
a clam-bed means little, because of the density of the population in some of them and the
reverse in others. As a rule, two species stock their beds very abundantly—namely, Saxidomus
giganteus and Paphia staminea—while the others do not. The small beds treated of are
invariably those of these two species. It was deemed of much greater importance to investigate closely the area covered by the present report than to go over a great deal of territory,
because the country surrounding Victoria and Vancouver is the only region in which there is
taking place a rapid change in conditions of the beds—if the northern extremity of British
Columbia be excluded. The beds used only by the Coast tribes in all probability need no
supervision at present because of the small population using them, but where commercial
methods are employed and the clams are canned or sold, there is sure to be danger of
exhaustion of the beds. In the consideration of the beds as a whole, it will be necessary to
investigate closely typical areas at various places along the coast, as the extent of the latter is
very great, and one of these areas is most assuredly tbe region between Vancouver Island and
the Mainland. The portions examined lie between Nanoose Harbour and Burrard Inlet on
the north, and Boundary Bay and Victoria on the south, with a total of about nine square
miles of beds which are productive, at least commercially, and twenty-five more which are
productive to some degree.     (This is, of course, simply an estimate, but fairly close.)
II. General Remarks on Distribution of the Beds.
Unlike the clams on long unbroken coasts, those of the waters behind Vancouver Island
are not concentrated into large areas, but are scattered as a large number of small beds save
near the mouth of the Fraser. The beds are found either on the shores of the islands or in
the smaller bays and harbours. This distribution is the result of the rough, rocky character
of almost the whole shore-line and of the deep waters, while the waves are not able to obtain
sufficient force to wear down the rocks into sand beaches.    There are extensive clam-beds only
* Note.—The value of the clam products for the Pacific Coast of the United States in 1908 was $46,000;
for California, including the mussel, $11,400.    (U.S. census figures.) I 38 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
at Boundary Bay and around the mouth of the Fraser River, there being a total of twenty-
five square miles of tidal flats in the first named. All the others are of small area, each one
of several acres in extent and frequently merely long narrow stretches of beach.
As a whole, the beds form two general types. The first of these is that with a small
area, densely inhabited by Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, the "little-neck" and
the " butter-clam "; and the second that with the large, sparsely inhabited flats. In the latter
are found mainly the cockle (Cardium corbis), the "otter-shell" (Schizothoerus nuttalli), and
several of the smaller species. Among the beds of the first type are the most valuable of the
Province, although no one of them may be said to be very valuable in itself. They include
almost all the island beds, False Narrows, Burrard Inlet, Nanaimo, Kulleet Bay, Cowichan
Harbour, and Comox. In the second are included Boundary Bay, Fraser River Sand Heads,
Chemainus River Flats, and numbers of smaller stretches. Each of these areas will be treated
separately, wherever possible, but the smaller ones will have to be taken up as geographical
divisions, such as the "Islands of the Gulf" and the "East Coast of Vancouver Island."
III. Species of Clams found in the Region investigated.
There are six species of clams which are commonly considered edible found on the tidal
flats of southern British Columbia, and four species of lesser importance. Of the first six, two
are considered superior to the others and utilized to the greatest degree. This variety of
species is large and compares very favourably with that of other regions. As but the southern
end of the coast-line was investigated, and none of the outer coast, there are at least three
more species of considerable importance not yet encountered. It will be necessary in the
following report to confine the general remarks on each species to a very brief resume of the
characteristics, abundance, and present utilization, as detailed treatment is outside the scope
of this paper and must await a complete and final report upon the beds of the Province. For
the identification of each species the plates given will suffice. The details of life-history are
largely unknown for all of the species.
A. Saxidomus giganteus, Deshayes. (Plate   I.)
(Common names : "Butter-clam" ; "big-clam " of the Vancouver markets ; and
"little-neck" of certain localities.)
1. Description.—This species has an oval shell of 2\ to 3 inches in length, strong, and
slightly brittle, with fine concentric ridges parallel to the edge of the shell, but without radial
ridges crossing these. The foot is but moderately developed and the siphon not of large size,
leaving the greatest part of the body suitable for canning.
2. Abundance.—This is one of the most abundant of the species found in the smaller
clam-beds, ranking a close second to Paphia staminea, the true "little-neck." It is an inhabitant of the middle parts of the tidal areas, in the gravel beds, either exposed or sheltered,
but it is also frequently found in muddy and soft-bottomed flats.
3. Present Use.—This species is the one most employed by the canneries at present and
shares the popularity of Paphia staminea in the fresh-clam markets. All of the canned shellfish of British Columbia are of this species, as far as I was able to discover. The Indians are
very fond of it and dig it extensively. The shells are found in great quantity in their
shell-mounds, and it is evident that it has been one of their principal foods in the past. It is
one of the most delicious of the species found in the inland waters, although it is surpassed by
some of those which live on the outer and exposed coasts. It is found as far south as the
coast of California and is everywhere highly valued as food. When canned or cooked fresh
the meat is tender. The shipping qualities (that is, the ability to withstand shipment) are
very good, and the appearance of the clam is usually very attractive. It is undoubtedly at
present one of the most valuable of the species found on the northern coasts of the Pacific.
B. Paphia staminea, Conrad.    (Plate II.)
(Common names :  '' Little-neck " ; " small-clam " ;  " hard-shell" ; and '' sweet-clam ".)
1. Description.—This is the smallest of the clams now utilized commercially, being from
ljjn to 2 inches in length. It is rounded in shape, with small radiating ridges crossing the
somewhat more indistinct concentric ones. The shell is easily broken and brittle. The foot
is fairly large, the siphon short.    It is of attractive appearance, clean, and white. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 39
2. Abundance.—It is a very abundant form in the smaller beaches, living with Saxidomus
giganteus in many cases. The density of the population in its beds is second to that of none
of the other western species. It is found in all gravel or firm beaches of any sort which are
of comparatively small extent; also, though less abundantly, in the larger flats. The total
area which is productive is large.    It inhabits the lower half of the beaches.
3. Present Use.—As far as I am aware, this species is not made use of by the canneries, and
the most extensive commercial digging is done in Burrard Inlet for the Vancouver markets.
The supply is not threatened in tbe least, as it is one of the species most resistant to prolonged
digging, and the greater number of beds are untouched as yet. The Indians appreciate it,
and in their shell-mounds great quantities are found, showing their extensive use in past times.
It is small, but sweet, and very delicious if properly cooked, so that there is no reason why it
should not be used by the canneries, save the slightly greater expense of handling. In the
opinion of the writer, it surpasses the " butter-clam " in edibility. Wherever it is found,
along the whole coast of the Pacific from California to British Columbia, it is highly valued.
The ability to withstand shipment is not as great as in some of the other species, yet it is
sufficient to eliminate any trouble from that source. It is to be confidently anticipated
that it will be one of the most valued of the species, in great part because of its suitability for
marketing in a fresh condition, and because of the great concentration of the beds.
C. Caedium coreis, Martyn.    (Plates III. and IV.)
(Common name :  " Cockle.")
1. Description.—This is a large species, reaching 21 to 3^ inches in length, with almost
equal height and width. The valves are strongly arched, so that viewed from one end its
shells appear heart-shaped. The radiating ridges on the valves are very strong, and form
alternating crenulations on the edges, which fit into each other. The foot is very large and
strong, somewat pointed and finger-shaped. There are no siphon-tubes, two holes in the fused
mantle edges taking their places.
2. Abundance.—This is one of the most widely spread of a"ll the forms, being found where-
ever the tidal flats are level, low, and not too rocky, over the open beaches and the flats at the
mouths of rivers. Although widely spread, the beds are never densely stocked ; in fact, the
species is more thinly scattered than is the "otter-shell" (Schizolhoerus nuttalli). This is
compensated for in part by the ease with which the individuals may be discovered. (See
description of methods in Part IV.) The largest beds in which it was found are the following :
Boundary Bay, Cowichan River Flats, Nanaimo River Flats, southern end of Fraser River
Sand Banks, and Chemainus River Flats.
3. Use.—The Indians are fond of this form, in great part because it requires no digging,
and it forms in many places a stock portion of their diet. As far as I am aware, it is utilized
regularly by no white people save as it is mixed with the other species found in the Vancouver
and Victoria markets. The reason for this is hard to find, for it is certainly very good when
properly cooked. The bulk of meat obtained is less in proportion to the size of the clam than
in some of the other species, and the foot much larger. It is a close ally to the much-esteemed
cockle on the coasts of Europe, and should find a ready welcome in the markets here. It is
doubtful whether it will ever become one of the species utilized for canning purposes, unless
simply to supplement the others.
D. Schizothoee-tjs nuttalli, Conrad.    (Plate V.)
(Common names :  "Otter-shell"; " summer-clam ;" and, wrongly,  "geoduck.")
1. Description.—This is the largest clam of northern waters save the geoduck, reaching
an average length of 6.4 inches and a weight of 2| ft. This varies greatly with the locality.
It is smoother-shelled than the other species, but shows irregular, concentric, and indistinct
lines of growth parallel to the edges of the shells. It is covered by a dark epidermis save on
the older parts, indicating its passive life. The shell is thin and very easily broken when dug
carelessly. The "neck," or siphon, is very long and never completely retracted. The foot is
small and apparently of only slight use to the adult.
2. Abundance.—Next to Cardium corbis, the cockle, this is the most widely distributed
of the forms studied, being found in all beaches of somewhat level character, at low-tide line,
even where greatly exposed to currents or waves. Similarly to that species, it is never found
densely inhabiting its beaches, but is found at most one or two to a square yard, and sometimes I 40 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
one to every four or five square yards. The siphon-holes are easily discovered, however, and
each clam bas to be dug out separately, anyway. It is found 1 to ]J feet below the surface.
3. Use.—Owing to the difficulty of digging this form, it is little used by any one; but
this does not mean that it is so difficult to obtain that it is impracticable to consider it for
commercial purposes, for it is possible to dig a considerable number, if so desired, at each low
tide. It is considered edible, but cannot be said to possess the delicacy of the others. In my
estimation, it is nearly as good as the soft-shell clam when it is properly cooked. When dried
and smoked, especially the siphon, or "neck," the Indians along the whole coast of the
region north of San Francisco are fond of it and put up quite a quantity for winter use. It
is best during the late summer and fall, according to the Indians. There is no reason why it
should not be utilized by the canneries. Its shipping qualities are very poor, owing to its
thin and ill-fitting shells, which fail to retain the water in the mantle cavity. The consequent
dryness and loss of weight soon kills the animal. The beds of this speeies are hence of no
prospective value as sources of supply for the fresh-clam markets. At present there is no use
to which this species is put save that of drying and immediate cooking.
E.   Mya abenakia, Linnaeus.    (Plate VI.)
(Common names :  "Soft-shell"; "mud-clam";  "eastern-clam."
1. Description.—This is the common mud-clam of the Atlantic coasts of Europe and
America, which has been recently (?) introduced into the Pacific Coast region. It is somewhat elongated, and flattened, with smooth thin shells which do not meet because of the thick
mantle edges, a large, long siphon, and rudimentary foot. It reaches a length of 5 or 6 inches,
usually somewhat less.
2. Abundance.—It is found everywhere there is a well-protected beach, at the upper
tidal levels, above the beds of Tapes staminea and Saxidomus giganteus. Where found it is
relatively abundant, but not as much so as is reported of it for the Atlantic shores. It may
be safely ranked among the more abundant species, however. The largest beds are at Boundary
Bay, Burrard Inlet, Nanaimo, and Chemainus River Flats.
3. Use.—At present this species is never dug save by an occasional Chinaman working on
the ranches near the beds, and is not marketed save where mixed with the other species in the
markets of Vancouver. The Indians do not put it to extensive use, and their shell-mounds do
not contain any of its shells. This may be due to its late introduction to this coast, and the
lack of familiarity with it on the part of the Indians. It is only a matter of time, however,
before it becomes valued as it is in the east and to the south. The present state of affairs
illustrates the slight interest taken in clams and the neglect of valuable resources. It is the
stock market clam in the markets of the Eastern cities.
F. Mytilus edulis, Linnaeus.     (Plate VII.)
(Common names:    "Mussel"; "inland mussel.")
1. Description.—This is the common mussel of the more protected bays and harbours, as
the waters of Puget Sound, being replaced on the outer coast by its larger and more rugged
cousin, Mytilus calif or nianus. The species under consideration reaches a length of 3 inches
in places, but is usually about 2. The shell is thin, very black and smooth, without radiating
ridges. The animal is attached invariably to some solid substance, as other shell-fish, rocks, or
gravel, by fine threads, called collectively a " byssus." It is found on both the European and
American coasts.
2. Abundance.—It is found everywhere on the rocks and beaches at nearly high-tide
level, usually in great numbers. Where found abundantly, as at the First Narrows in Burrard
Inlet, and False Narrows, they form masses 5 or 6 inches deep over the surface of the beach.
They exist also over the rocks at high-tide levels, but only where they are not greatly exposed
to waves, and give them a characteristic blue colour.
3. Use.—This species is used by no one save the Indians, as far as I was able to ascertain,
although it is highly esteemed in Europe and even on the Californian coasts. The Indians do
not seem, however, to make the use of it which they do of the speeies of clams. There is no
reason why this species should not be as widely used as it is in other countries, save its small
size and the presence of so many other species.
If not properly handled, the flesh of this species is liable to decompose and show traces of
ptomaine poison.    It should  be marketed fresh,  and from clean beds at as low a level as 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 41
possible.     When canned it should be put up in glass  receptacles.    If these precautions are
taken there is not the slightest reason to fear the use of the species.
G. Other Species.
(a.) Macoma secta, Conrad.    (Plate VIII.)
Common name:  "White-sand clam."
This is a species found at a depth of H feet below the surface in all pure sand of the
exposed parts of the larger flats, and often in the smaller ones. It may be found by the slight
marks on the surface of the sand left by the water rising from its siphons. It is flat in shape,
only slightly longer than deep, with one end abruptly contracted on one side, the left, giving
it a " bent-nosed " appearance. On this side it lies, and the two siphons, slender, delicate
white tubes, reach up from the contracted end to near the surface of the sand. The shell is
white, clean, and very pretty and attractive. The foot is large, strong, and flattened, so that
it is protruded somewhat like a tongue.
The flesh of this species is very delicate, and when steamed is white and very little like a
clam. The alimentary canal is invariably full of sand, however, and the utilization of this
form awaits a method of ridding the animal of this. It is very easy to do this with all the
other sand-eating animals, and this problem should present no great trouble in this case.
Experiments to this end were undertaken, but not finished because of the short space of time
it was possible to stay in any one place. The clam is undoubtedly unique in its delicacy and
appearance, and if rid of the sand would, in my opinion, rank very highly. It has never been
dug for any purpose, and the great majority of people interviewed were unaware of its existence
in the sand, save from the dead shells on the surface. It is nevertheless a very abundant and
widely spread species.
(6.) Macoma nasuta, Conrad.
A species somewhat resembling the preceding, found in the mud-flats, however, and not
of very great value. It is found in the Indian shell-mounds, but I have so far not seen it
eaten by any persons whatsoever.
IV. Enemies of the Clams.
Within the scope of this report it will be possible to treat only of the most prominent of the
enemies, and no attempt made to diagnose the bacterial and parasitic enemies. There are two
types of destructive agencies, one including organic enemies, the other physical. Of these the
latter are the most important, preventing the maturing of by far the greatest part of the young
and limiting sharply the extent of the beds. The organic enemies are specific for this coast,
and in part for the British Columbia portion of it.
The organic enemies include the following forms : Corvus caurinus, Baird, the crow ;
Thais saxicola, Valenciennes, and Thais lamellosa, Gmelin, small borers with spiral shells ;
Polynices lewissii, Gould, the large spiral-shelled borer, called frequently a "big-snail"; the
five-rayed starfish, * Pisaster ochraceus, Pisaster confertus, and Pisaster sp.; and the twenty-
rayed starfish, Pycnopodia hehanthoides.
To these enemies may be added certain ducks, on the assumption that their habits are
the same as they are farther to the south. Other shell-fish strain from the water as food vast
numbers of the swimming-young and thus destroy them.
1. The crow, Corvus caurinus, is more particularly the enemy of the cockle, Cardium
corbis. At every low tide there are great numbers of these birds walking or flying over the
flats, closely inspecting the surface for anything which may be eaten. All shell-fish which are
not too large to be carried are lifted in the bird's beak and dropped from a height on to a hard
surface, gravel-bed or railroad-track, and thus broken. The roads and rocky beaches near
clam-beds are frequently densely littered with broken shells. The cockle is peculiarly susceptible
to the attacks of the crow because of its habit of thrusting itself out on to the surface of the
flats. If too big to be carried off by the birds, it nevertheless is exposed to the heat of the
sun, and as a usual thing becomes so weak during the low spring tides that it is unable to keep
its shell, closed against its enemies, and thus dies. The crow, to do justice to it, is drawn as
much to the flats by the worms to be obtained as by the shell-fish.
'' Starfish identified by Dr. Walter K. Fisher, of Stanford University, California. I 42 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
2. Thais saxicola and T. lamellosa (Plates IX., X., and XL), the small borers, are
particularly enemies of the mussel, Mytilus edulis, and great numbers of these may be found
dead, pierced by the drills of these spiral-shelled forms. Other species are also attacked
whenever they are near the surface and thus exposed. As these borers are but l^r inches in
length they are able to satisfy themselves with barnacles in a great many cases, and thus are
diverted from the shell-fish. Their eggs are laid in vase-shaped capsules attached in clumps
to shells, etc., and in these the young develop. They may be easily destroyed by collecting the
eggs during the spring tides.
3. Polynices lewissii, the large " snail-shell " borer, is not as serious a pest as it is in some
of the southern bays, but is nevertheless serious enough to merit attention. Its shell reaches
a size of 3 or 4 inches, and it is able to attack any of the clams. Its habit is to plough along
2 or 3 inches below the surface of the bed until it comes to a clam, or it may gO still deeper.
It then wraps its pray in the large extensible foot, and proceeds to drill a hole through the
umbo or round shoulder of the shell. That the animal does not depend on the drill exclusively
is shown by the fact that the juices secreted by the foot frequently kill the clam before the hole
is through the shell. In certain regions it is possible to collect clams very rapidly by taking the
prey away from these "snails," which may be easily discovered by the projection of a portion
of the mantle or the tip of the shell above the surface. Each of these clam enemies seems to
be constantly in possession of a freshly killed clam, and it is evident that they kill great
numbers of them. The eggs are laid in a cape-like form, cemented together with sand. These
are usually partly buried in the mud, but may easily be collected and destroyed. This species
does not attack mussels or oysters.    It is unable to reach the deepest-burrowing clams.
4. The starfish named above, are not serious pests in any of the localities investigated,
but are nevertheless worthy of consideration. Their method of attack is well known and
needs no comment. The twenty-rayed Pycnopodia helianthodes is destructive to all shell-fish
below low-tide line, but is unable to withstand exposure to the sun and drying, and hence
cannot attack the higher forms. On the rocks the five-rayed starfish are the worst enemies of
the mussels.
V. Present Methods of Utilization and Regulation of the Clam-supply.
1. General Remarks on the Use.—The clam product of greatest value in British Columbia
appears to be that of the canneries, but, of course, a great deal is utilized by Indians and
marketed fresh. When canned they are shipped to cities of the interior for the great part,
but Vancouver and Victoria consume much. The market can be regarded as but just
opening, and there is no doubt that all that can be produced will find a ready sale. Much
less than a quarter of the available shell-fish supply in the area investigated is utilized.
In common with the western United States, the natural products most easily obtained
are held in slight esteem. With the greater age of the country, the relative value of these
resources grows in proportion. Thus in Virginia the amount of clams marketed is but 13 per
cent, of the total for the whole of the United States, but the value of the same is 20 per cent,
of the total value. In the Pacific Coast States the amount is 6 per cent., but the value is
only 2 per cent, of the total (1908 census). The same will be found true of all the new
countries as compared with the older, and with the growth of this value, the unused species will
be utilized (i.e., Mytilus edulis, Mya arenaria, Schizothoerus nuttalli).
During the summer months of May, June, July, and August there is a general belief
that clams are not edible. This follows in part from the fact that the spawning of the
various species leaves the animals in a spent condition, thin and watery. This is not true of
all the species, and some of them may be considered edible all the year round.
The salmon season provides a natural close season, as then all the diggers are at the
salmon-canneries. As a general thing, but few of the clams are dug during the four months
previously mentioned save in Burrard Inlet.
As is stated in another part of the report, the only clam now utilized for canning is the
" butter-clam " (Saxidomus giganteus). The fact that but the one clam is desired has proven
a material factor in preventing the total depletion of some of the beds. Were it customary
to can all of the other forms found in the same localities, it would be profitable to dig the
beds longer than is now done, and in consequence the supply of some of the species would be
much more closely culled. As it is at present, the beds are abandoned when the yield has
fallen so low that it is unprofitable to dig longer, and the consequence is a period of rest and
recuperation for the area. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 43
2. The Diggers and their Methods.—At present the clam-diggers in British Columbia are
for the most part Indians. The tribes of the Pacific Coast have in the past lived largely on
clams and fish, especially salmon. Their shell-mounds are found in great abundance everywhere, and show an extensive utilization of the shell-fish long before the coming of the white
man. The place they now hold is therefore natural to them, and one which they are best
fitted for. As was the case before the days of canneries, many of them catch salmon during
its season, and depend on clams in the interim, preserving some of each by drying. The
greater number, however, labour for the salmon-packers instead of for themselves, and sell
clams during the days that intervene, or follow some other pursuit. It is only just, in a way,
that these resources should so serve them, for they were in the first place peculiarly their own.
The qualities demanded of them by this method of life are those of savages. They must
be nomadic, capable of shifting their homes with the seasons and making them wherever convenient. Without their ability to make a portion of their living from the beach, they would
not be able to work at the wages they do in the canneries, or to dig clams at the prices
obtained from the canners. A white labourer would demand wages far higher in both cases,
providing the labour were not continuous. In a way, then, the clams of the coast aid in
providing the labour-supply for the salmon canneries. The fact that the Indians are at home
on the water and that they possess canoes, enables them to make use of all the small beds of
clams everywhere, as the distribution of the species at present in use demands.
The methods employed by the Indians in obtaining the shell-fish are various. At the
present time the spade or the potato-fork is used to dig up the clams which bury themselves,
just as is done by the white men, but formerly these were dug up by means of a short pointed
stick or similar tool. This method is even yet used in the flats of Burrard Inlet, where the
Indian women dig clams for the Vancouver market, a short stout blade of steel being
substituted. The cockle is found in a very different fashion, for it dwells near the surface and
is sparsely distributed. As it lies with its " siphonate" end near the surface, it may be
detected by the appearance of the sand above it. The Indians search the tide-flats carefully
for this, and feel for the clam with the point of a slender stick or wand, of such length that
they do not have to squat, thrusting it into the sand until the shell of the clam is encountered.
The animal is then pried up. Over the greater tide-flats many Indians can be seen every low
tide wandering to and fro, engaged in thus searching for the clam. The great " otter-shell "
of the flats is little dug, because of the difficulty of digging to its depth in the sand, which
flows because of the water in it, but when it is desired a spade is used. The principal method
of preserving the clams and mussels seems to have been by drying, as is done even now with
salmon, but this process was not observed.
Beside Indians there are few diggers, save two white men who were found in Burrard
Inlet. The Chinese have not interested themselves in clams, as in San Francisco, and their
markets were without them at the time they were inspected. A factor not to be forgotten is
the man who digs clams for his own use. At certain parts of the coasts of Washington and
California the clam-beds are strong attractions for the camper and the local inhabitant,
especially on Sunday. It is not likely that this will be so markedly the case in British
Columbia, but it must not be ignored.
An odd use to which the clam-beds are put, especially the soft-shell and mud-clam, may
be incidentally mentioned. At Boot Cove, Saturna Island, a herd of pigs was found feeding
on these clams, rooting them out at low tide. I was informed that the pigs had formed a
habit of doing this, and that they thus obtained much food. This is a common practice in
some of the Eastern States, and affords a suggestion for the use of the beds in some of the
present unutilized places.
3. The Canneries.—During the course of the investigation but one cannery was completely
inspected, although there are three in the Province. The time was inopportune, as it was
during the salmon season, and the off-season for clams, so that no actual operations were
observed. There are known to be canneries at Sidney, at Nanaimo, and on the Queen Charlotte
Islands. The latter was out of reach, the second was closed and the owners away, so that I
was able to go through only the one at Sidney. The incomplete report will be here presented,
with a description of the methods used there.
The cannery at Nanaimo was formerly conducted on a barge, which was towed from place
to place as conditions demanded. I was informed that it had been located first in the San
Juan Islands, then at Sidney, Chemainus, and Nanaimo in succession. The cause for each
move was presumably a temporary exhaustion of the neighbouring clam-beds.    Certain of the I 44 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
diggers told me that it was necessary to dig in a new bed each year. This method of shifting
the scene of operations is most certainly dangerous, as with the increase of demand it will
simply be a case of each cannery taking all that can be obtained in any one place, with the
promise of other beds to be had for the trouble of moving. In this cannery there were
employed about thirty people, including some girls and boys.
The cannery at Sidney is owned and operated by the Sidney Trading Company. When
running, fifteen to twenty men and women are employed intermittently. This is because of
the irregular run of the low tides and a consequent variation in the amount of clams brought
in. It is customary to be idle for a week or ten days, open for a similar period, and then
closed again. A total of 2,000 cases of forty-eight 1-ft. tins each were put up last season
between September and May. This means approximately 3,000 sacks of clams or more. The
greatest part of this is obtained during March and April, and at that time employment is
most nearly continuous. The clams come from numerous small beaches, and are brought from
as far as Ganges Harbour and Pender Island. These are distances of twelve to twenty miles.
Almost all the diggers are Indians, operating in families, with their canoes and occasionally
with gasolene-launches, so that these distances are not serious obstacles to them. I was
informed that there were nearly a hundred of them employed at various times. The cannery
has been in operation for seven or eight years.
The methods employed in the canning of the clams are not as well developed as is the
case in salmon-canning. The clams are brought in as clean as possible and thrown into the
steaming-barrel. This is a barrel set on tipping-pivots and with a tap at the bottom. Into it
steam is injected until the clams are cooked and have opened. The first dirty nectar is
discarded, but the cleaner is saved. The open clams are then thrown into a tinned trough-like
table, where the meat is taken out by hand. This is then washed in a sink by hot water to
free it from sand, placed in cans, and these filled with the nectar which was saved from the
steaming-barrel. The cans are then topped by hand, the tops being punctured, carried to a
hot-water vat, and there the air is exhausted by heat. The hole in the top is then soldered.
The cans are finally placed in a retort for two hours at 212° Fahr., shellaced, labelled, and
boxed for shipment.    The capacity of the plant is seventy or eighty cases in ten hours.
The shells are utilized for chicken-feed at both the Nanaimo and the Sidney canneries,
being ground before sale at the former and sold whole at the latter. When sold unground in
sacks, the price obtained is $7.25 per ton at the wharf at Sidney, less the cost of sacking and
transportation to the wharf. Both the shells from Sidney and Nanaimo are said to be shipped
out of the Province—sometimes into the States. It is regrettable that the shells are not
utilized on the oyster-beds, as they are splendidly clean and suitable for oyster-spat collectors.
With the use of such on the oyster leases, it is probable that these shells will be purchased
for that purpose.
VI. Recommendations for the Control of the Clam-beds.
The distribution of the clams which are commercially important in scattered beds scattered
among the islands and along the shores has a most important effect on the control of the beds.
It will be very nearly impossible to lease these beds as separate areas, as the lessee would require
a large number of them, and it would be very hard for him to prevent the use of his own leases
by other men. When this is the case even with oyster-beds, it must be acknowledged that it
would be much more so in the case of clam-beds. At present the distribution of the supply
over scattered beds has led to the exhaustion of the most convenient beds and the shifting of
the canneries when these are exhausted. This is simply the free exploitation of the beds for
for all they are worth at the time. It is obvious that some provision will have to be made that
will require the permanence of the canneries—that is, the establishment of a settled industry.
If this is done, then it is just as obvious that each cannery will have to be protected in its
right to a certain amount of clam-beds.
To meet these conditions it is therefore recommended that certain areas or leased zones
be established for each cannery, and the retention of this area be made dependent on the
abundance of clams in the beds. This would result in the cessation of digging before the
total exhaustion of the beds, and would provide an easy method of protection for areas
threatened with exhaustion. In case of the growth in value of the clam-beds for other than
clam-digging purposes, the utilization of these could be easily stopped. It would also result
in the establishment of settled industries and a spirit of conservation of the clam resources. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 45
It is also recommended that data be gathered for the proper determination of the close
seasons for the different species. This would necessitate an investigation into the breeding
seasons and the natural history or habits of the animals. It may be necessary to establish
close seasons for the whole coast-line, but it is more probable that this would not be necessary,
and that local close seasons would be much more effective. The zone arrangement for the
canneries would serve this purpose admirably. The variation in the close seasons would, of
course, be permitted by the divisions now in use for other purposes. The close seasons adopted
by other districts of the coast will probably be found inapplicable here.
VII. Relation of Clams to Oyster-culture,
In the consideration of the shell-fish resources it should not be forgotten that the different
species are more or less interdependent. In the case of clams and oysters this is markedly
the case. It is rarely true that they inhabit beds in commercial abundance at the same time,
but the clams are found in sufficient numbers to provide the constant presence of their shells
on the surface of the bed, or the shells are carried on to the bed by the currents. One of the
most vital requirements for the successful existence of an oyster-bed is the presence of suitable
objects for the young to settle on, for without these they invariably perish. It is a conservative
statement to make that the clam-shells left on the surface of the oyster-beds through natural
means are indispensable from this standpoint, and frequently furnish the only spat-collectors
available save the shells of the adult oysters.
The shells of the clams are left on the surface through various means. In the case of the
cockle, it frequently works itself out of the ground in its energetic movements and is unable
to speedily re-enter. When this happens it may succumb to the heat of the sun, or be so greatly
weakened by the exposure as to fall an easy prey to its enemies. Other species are washed
out of their burrows by currents. By all these means there is always found a supply of dead
clam-shells on the surface of the beds. Of this natural supply, the greatest part, of course,
does not lie on the oyster-beds. This could be raked up without great expense and utilized
by spreading over the beds.
Beside this supply there is that left by the canneries after the meat is extracted. This
is always very clean, and is more suited than the natural supply of shells for the spat-collectors.
In the case of the natural supply there is always a thin film of dirt or slime over the surface
of the shell, and this prevents the proper adhesion of the spat. In the case of the cannery
shells this is not so, because the shells are washed clean and left to dry in the air. If
planted at the proper time the effectiveness of these shells is by far the greater. It is probable
that in the course of time these shells will be so utilized, although at present they are sold for
In the case of the native oyster, the small size of the species and the habit of selling them
in their shells prevents the retention of the same on the beds and their later use for spat-
collecting purposes. In this respect they differ from the eastern oysters, and there thus arises
a problem peculiar to the native oyster in the necessit}^ for finding a cheap supply of spat-collectors. Where the eastern oyster is imported, this is provided for to some extent by the dead
shells of this species, and as they are brought here as spat there is no necessity for spat-collectors
for them. It is easy to see, then, that there must be a careful conservation of the clam-shells,
and that with the development of the native oyster-beds must arise a great need for them.
The clam-beds are hence to be considered from this standpoint when they are leased, and
provision made for the right to the clam-shells as well as to the live clams themselves.
VIII. Report on the Clam-beds of Boundary Bay.
1. General Information.—Boundary Bay is on the western end of the Boundary-line
between the United States and Canada. It is twenty-four miles from Vancouver by the
Great Northern Railroad, which runs around its head, and fifteen from New Westminster,
reckoning from Crescent, at the mouth of the Nicomekl River. Colebrook is at the other
side of the head of the bay, a few miles distant, and is the only suitable shipping-point besides
Crescent. At clams are shipped from the bay, oysters only being utilized. There
are no towns of any size nearer than New Westminster, and Blaine on the American side,
although there are numerous farms in the immediate neighbourhood, and a small settlement
of summer residents is forming at Crescent. In consequence, the local use of clams is very
small. With the sure growth of the use of the various species, it is probable that a part of
Vancouver's supply of clams will come from Boundary Bay. I 46 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
2. Description of the Beds.—-The flats bared by the tide, which rises and falls 10 to 12
feet, are about twenty square miles in extent. Of this a conservative estimate would place
the productive part at seven, but the whole is more or less inhabited by clams. The supply
of fresh water is not so great as to injure the beds, but renders portions more suitable for
certain species. At the eastern end of the bay two streams enter, the Nicomekl and the
Serpentine, and as would be expected that portion of the bay is very soft, heavy mud, including
much of the area between the two and their junction. From this part the flats extend in a
great semicircle to the westward around to Point Roberts, as shown on the accompanying map.
Along the margin of this numbers of small streams enter and flow on to the beds. The united
channels of the two main streams extend south-westward to the open gulf, with a spit along
its southern edge a distance of two miles, forming thus a triangular tide-flat adjoining the main
part. Into the main portion of the flats extend four sloughs of varying length, which drain
off the tidal water, and end in areas of shallow standing water at some distance from the shore.
The whole flat is a sedimentary formation, as are the sand-heads of the Fraser River, and the
bed appears to be in fact a continuation of these. It is one of the numerous large similar
areas which lie on the eastern shore of the Washington end of Puget Sound, and is the only
one which is north of the boundary-line. Like these, it is a great extent of sand-banks, or
muddy areas alternating with weeded parts in which the water stands, and cut up by channels
which end in the heads of standing water.
The formation of the beds exposes them to two methods of water-action. Up and down
the channels strong tidal currents sweep, leaving their banks shifting sand, and carrying off
the mud. This results in banks of sand which are slightly higher than the surrounding flats,
and are drained more quickly than the portions farther back. Wave-action, too, has its effect
on the flats, as southerly winds have somewhat of a sweep. The southern spit protects to a
certain degree the eastern part of the beds, and prevents the formation of sand-flats save by
the currents. The wave-action results in the washing-out of the muddy sediment and forms
sand-flats, as would a current, save that they are not on the edges of the channels and are
more extensive, as well as less shifting in character. The result has been in general the
formation of a narrow shore belt of firm undisturbed sediment, an intermediate softer area,
somewhat muddy and with occasional standing water, and an outer stretch of sand, or
sandy mud, the outer edge of shifting sand. Each of these areas possesses its species of clams,
as remarked in the following pages.
3. Species of Clams found in Boundary Bay.—There are nine species of clams found in
Boundary Bay, all of them abundant enough in places for commercial use. Ostrea lurida, the
native oyster, is the most important, but is treated in a preceding section of the report. The
others are, in order of importance, Mya arenaria, the "soft-shell mud-clam"; Schizothoerus
nuttalli, the large " otter-shell " or " summer-clam " ; Cardium corbis, the " cockle " ; Paphia
staminea, the 'a little-neck " or " hard-shell " clam ; Saxidomus giganteus, the " butter-clam " ;
Macoma secta, the " oyster-shell" or " sand-clam "; and Macoma nasuta, the " mud-clam."
Of these, the first three are the abundant ones, the next two are found in but small beds, and
the others are at present not utilized.
The distribution of these shell-fish has been carefully worked out for Boundary Bay, as it
is one of the main types of clam-flats, and with a good understanding of the natural relationships of the species much will be understood regarding their distribution in other regions. In
the accompanying maps (Plates XIII. and XIV.) this has been carefully charted from actual
observation. It will be observed that there are two groups of species, those which dwell near the
shore—in other words, at a higher level—and those which are found on the lower and more
exposed parts. To the first group belong Mya arenaria and Macoma nasuta ; to the second
Schizothoerus nuttalli, Cardium corbis, and Macoma secta ; while Ostrea lurida has a distinctly
different distribution, its beds clustering around the heads of the sloughs. The first of the
two groups inhabits the slightly higher and firmer bottoms, and those soft ones which are well
protected ; while the second is found on the lower, more exposed areas, where the bottoms shift
and where the siphon-holes are being continually filled by sand or the-surface eroded. All of
these species are specifically adapted to meet their several conditions, and it is these conditions
which are the most important considerations in determining the death or survival of the clam.
It is here desired to emphasize the fact that the distribution of the species as shown is typical
in all regards. Given the same types of tide-flats it is possible to prophesy the species to be
found in its various parts. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 47
A. Mya arenaria, the " soft-shell clam" of Boundary Bay.
At present this species is the most important clam in Eastern and California markets,
but it is not utilized to any extent in British Columbia. Boundary BayT possesses a large
amount of them, in some places very abundantly. All of these species lying within a hundred
yards of the shore are almost invariably too small for use, because they are not covered a
sufficient part of the time. This shore belt nevertheless breeds and aids in maintaining the
marketable supply. At a distance of a quarter of a mile from the shore, beds of commercial
abundance and size are found in irregular patches, and also along the sloughs flowing into the
Serpentine River. The total area of the beds may be estimated at seven to nine square miles,
but of this it is probable that but 400 or 500 acres may be considered good—that is with
commercially abundant clams at the present standard. Chinese ranch-hands frequently dig
messes for themselves, but do not peddle them. I have never seen the Indians digging them,
nor do their shell-mounds at Crescent show any traces of their presence. It is probable that
in the course of time these clams will be utilized in the markets of Vancouver.
B. Schizothoerus nuttalli, the " otter-shell " of Boundary Bay.
This large clam grows abundantly in the sandy, more exposed reaches of flats, always
close to low-tide line. It here reaches an average of about 3 ft. when freshly taken from the
water. It is not utilized to any extent by the local inhabitants, and, of course, not shipped
at all, due to the general indifference to the species and its poor shipping qualities. If it
were possible to utilize this species at all, it would undoubtedly be very valuable, but the only
available way would be by canning, and as far as I know no canneries have attempted putting
up this species. The largest bed lies on the outer side of the spit to the south of the Nicomekl
River. Here about thirty individuals are found in an area about 15 feet square. Those on
the inner, less exposed portions of the flats are smaller on the average and less abundant.
The total area of the beds of this species may be estimated at two and a half square miles.
It would be very difficult to give any estimate of the yield of such an area, because the details
of the life-history are not known. Its shells form a good part of the natural " cultch " supply
for the spat of the native oysters.
The average size of the shells from the inner flats is 4.7 inches long, but from the outer
6.4 inches, the average weight of the latter being about 3 ft. when fresh from the water.
C. Cardium corbis, the "cockle."
This species is found abundantly, but is rarely utilized in any way here, although its use
is widespread among the Indian tribes of the coast. It is found over most of the areas
inhabited by Schizothoerus nuttalli and Ostrea lurida, a total of about three square miles.
As remarked in another portion of the report, Cardium corbis does not lie as closely on the
beds as is true of some of the other species, hence the above area would represent but a portion
of the value of the similar areas of other species. Its shells form a large portion of the natural
oyster-spat collectors, although much of the supply is not on the beds. This is due to the
tendency of this species to work itself out on to the surface. The average size of this species
in Boundary Bay is large, nearly 3 inches.
D. Paphia staminea, the "little-neck."
As is true of Saxidomus giganteus, the beds of this species are very small in Boundary
Bay. They will never be of much commercial importance and should be reserved for the use
of the local inhabitants. It is used at present by them to as great an extent as any of the
others. The abundance in the beds is not as great as it is usually in beds of this species.
They form a small per cent, of the shells in the Indian shell-mounds.
E. Saxidomus aratus, the "butter-clam."
The beds of this species are not extensive in Boundary Bay, as shown on the map
accompanying. They are nevertheless well stocked and very valuable in proportion to their
size. They would be very soon exhausted if used commercially. At present it is utilized by
the local inhabitants, and forms a good part of the shell-mounds of the Indians. None are
shipped out or peddled as far as could be discovered. I 48 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
F. Macoma secta, the "white-sand clam."
This species has never, to my knowledge, been utilized by Indians or white people in the
vicinity of Boundary Bay. The majority of people are not conscious of its presence, lying
deeply as it does, and without striking surface indications of its location. It is nevertheless
the abundant shell-fish in the bay, with the exception, possibily, of Mya arenaria or one of the
very small species. As is the case with the large " otter-shell," the areas it lies in are utilized
by none of the other species save the cockle. The individuals grow to as large a size as the
species has been recorded as reaching, and the shells are very clean and white. Provided
some method is discovered to rid the alimentary canal of sand, this species should be of considerable value commercially.    The total area of the beds is about two and a half square miles.
G. Macoma nasuta, the "mud-clam."
This species is very abundant along the shore in about the same territory that Mya arenaria
is, but is of little value at present, as no one but the Indians eat it.
IX. Report on the Clam-beds of the Fraser Sand-heads.
1. General Information.—The sand-heads of the Fraser River are without doubt the most
extensive tide-flats in the Province, covering nearly fifty square miles. Of this great area but
about four square miles may be said to have any importance as clam-beds. This results from
the great volume of fresh water poured over them by the Fraser River, which kills all marine
life save on the upper and lower angles of the flats. The southern end is inhabited a distance
of four miles from Point Roberts, hence about a third of the productive area is in American
territory. That at the northern end is very small in extent, and may be said to be of almost
no value. The main part of the flats is broken up into islands surrounded by channels of
the Fraser River, but the upper and lower ends are continuous stretches, very flat, and with
much standing water. The southern end is a soft sandy mud or pure sand, occasionally
weeded, and with a shore strip of very soft mud, into which one sinks somewhat. This
southern end is in reality a continuation of Boundary Bay, which lies across the peninsula of
Point Roberts. Clams marketed from this region would have to be carried some distance to
Port Guichon or Ladner's Landing in order to find transportation to Vancouver or Victoria.
2. Species.—A very few Mya arenaria, or the Eastern mud-clam, may be found at the
outer edge of the main flats, but in such small quantity that they are of no commercial use.
The only bivalve found in any abundance is the small Macoma balthica, or "pink-shell." In
the southern end Mya arenaria is found in abundauce in a narrow belt near the shore, but I
know of no use to which they are put, and it is doubtful whether they are so abundant as to
pay to dig for market.
Cardium corbis, the cockle, is found over almost the whole of the productive area, not in
great abundance, but in such as to repay their collection by the Indians. Their beds extend
over the outer parts of the flats where there is standing water at low tide. They are very
seldom found on the northern end of the sand-heads, near Point Gray.
Schizothoerus nuttalli, the " otter-shell" or " summer-clam," is found to be the most
abundant of all the species. It extends farther over the area affected by the fresh water, and
is found over the whole outer edge of the productive area. They cannot be said to inhabit the
flats as densely as they do in Boundary Bay, and it is doubtful whether they are in commercial
abundance.    They are found in only slight abundance on the northern end of the flats.
Macoma secta and Macoma nasuta, the former the white-sand clam and the latter the
mud-clam, called " bent-nosed," are found in some abundance, but no use is made of them,
and it is doubtful whether any could,
3. Present Utilization of the Clams.—There are at present a number of Indians living
along the western side of the peninsula of Point Roberts, and these make some use of the
clam-supply for their own sustenance, but, as far as I know, ship none to market, nor depend
on it to any great extent. The whole area is regarded by them as a good "crabbing" ground,
and when in search of the crabs it is usual to find them also gathering a certain amount of
clams, usually Cardium corbis, the cockle. When desirous of clams especially, it is their
habit to go to the flats at the end of Point Roberts and gather Saxidomus giganteus, the
" butter-clam." This species seems to be favoured even more than the cockle. The large
Schizothoerus nuttalli is not dug because the depth to which it is necessary to go for them in
the shifting sand. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 49
As far as can be foretold, there does not seem to be any prospect of this area becoming
of any importance from a commercial standpoint, but it is likely to be a favourite place for
digging by campers, etc., who also desire the crabs which may be caught stranded on the flats.
The utilization of any of the area for the growth of ovsters would be doubtful, although the
eastern oyster might be bedded there, providing it were protected from the storms and too
much fresh water.
X. Clam-beds of Burrard Inlet.
1. General Information, Area, and Description.^As may be seen from the map, Burrard
Inlet is composed of two main parts, one of them running east and west, and another joining
this at right angles and extending north from it. The latter is called North Arm. That
composing the southern part is thirteen miles long, a third wide at the narrowest part, and
two at the widest. At the southern side of the entrance lies the City of Vancouver, and at
the other end lies the town of Port Moody. Along the southern shore runs the Canadian
Pacific Railroad. On the north shore, opposite Vancouver, lies North Vancouver, a small
but growing town.
North Arm is of little importance from a shell-fish standpoint. Its shores are steep and
mountainous, the arm deserving the name of canyon. There are no beaches save at the
northern end at the mouth of the Indian River, and at the southern, where there is a small
clam-bed at the head of Bed well Bay. Along either side there are occasional mountain-streams.
The depth of the water is greatest at the head of the arm, being over 100 fathoms, while the
entrance is about 20. As a result of the shade of the mountains, the cold fresh-water streams,
and the great depth of the water, the temperature is low. The salinity is also too low for
shell-fish, especially on the surface, because the great mass of the water is not affected by the
tides. With the exception of Bedwell Bay, there are no beds, save for a few mussels on the rocks
at the southern end, where the salinity is greater. North Arm is then of no importance from
the shell-fish standpoint, save as it affects the salinity and temperature of the southern portion.
The latter is throughout a shallower body of water, being 25 fathoms deep at most, and is
affected to a great degree by the tides. At the eastern end the depth is not over 5 fathoms, and
at its head lies a flat of over 200 acres, which is not at all productive. This results in great
part from the influence of North Arm on the salinity of the water, but also from the fact that
there are several small streams of fresh water flowing over them. As may be seen from the map,
there are two stretches of flats at the two Narrows, leaving in each case about 250 yards of open
water through which flows a seven-knot current. At both of these a creek enters, at the first
or outer Capilano Creek and at the inner Seymour Creek. The total volume of fresh water
entering the inlet is thus large, and it is due to the great effect of the tide that the salinity is
such as to permit the growth of shell-fish. The flats at the north side of the First Narrows,
nearest the entrance, cover about 350 acres, of which not more than 100 are productive of
any kind of shell-fish. Those of the Second Narrows are 440 acres in extent, of which 160
are more or less productive. Along the southern shore is a narrow beach averaging 15 to 20
yards in width, which is inhabited by clams throughout the most of its length. The total
area of beds in this stretch, however, cannot be said to be more than 10 acres. That along
the water-front of Vancouver is not taken into consideration. The whole area of shell-fish
beds may then be estimated as about 275 acres, including all that is productive in any degree
whatever.    This is about a sixth of the total area of the flats.
That this area will be greatly reduced by the growth of the cities on Burrard Inlet is
certain. The flats at the First Narrows will be the first to suffer, as even now great wharves
are projected for North Vancouver. Whether the other areas will be utilized commercially,
time only will tell. The beach bordering the water-front of Vancouver cannot be considered,
because it is, of course, too dirty and crowded, and the same will be true wherever there are
For its supply of fresh clams the City of Vancouver is almost wholly dependent on the
area within Burrard Inlet at present, and all of the supply taken from them goes into the
markets of Vancouver. An estimate of the total of fresh clams marketed per year is 800 or
900 sacks or more. This is not a large supply for a city of the size of Vancouver, and it is
fully to be expected that other regions will have to be drawn upon—namely, Boundary Bay
and the islands of the Gulf. As the latter are at present not connected with Vancouver by
the best of transportation facilities, it is evident that the problem of supplying that city with
fresh clams may be somewhat difficult. I 50 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
2. Species.—There are at present but two species marketed in Vancouver to any extent —
namely, Saxidomus giganteus and Paphia staminea. These are termed respectively "large"
and " small " clam, or the first is called the " butter clam " and the second the " little neck."
They are dug in the flats at the Narrows, and to some extent along the southern beach. The
areas are indicated on the map. The beds of Paphia staminea are found in small patches, but
are very abundant in these and of good size. The flats of the First Narrows are generally
considered the best for this species, while those of the Second Narrows have more Saxidomus
in proportion ; but in both cases the two species are intermingled and may vary greatly in
abundance at either bed.    As a general thing, Paphia staminea is the more abundant.
Besides these two species there are found a number of others in small quantity, and one
very abundantly. The latter is the common edible mussel of the European coasts, Mytilus
edulis, which is considered a valuable food-fish in all European countries, but which is not at
all utilized on the coast of British Columbia. At the western end of the First Narrows theie
are found dense masses of this species, covering the surface to a depth of 3 to 5 inches, and
from this area alone Vancouver could be largely supplied. Other beds are found on the flats
at the Second Narrows, but not in such great abundance, and small mussels of very thin shell
are seen as far inland as the Indian River. They may be seen at a great distance, as they
give the flats and the rocks a blue appearance. The shells are somewhat covered with barnacles
at times, but not to such an extent as to seriously diminish the value of the product. There
is no reason why the species should not be extensively utilized in Vancouver, providing laws
are passed to regulate the sale of the animals after a certain length of time out of water. (See
general part of report.)
Other forms available in sparse numbers are : Mya arenaria, the eastern mud-clam; Mya
truncata, its near relative; Schizothoerus nuttalli, the large "otter-shell"; and Cardium
corbis, the "cockle." None of these can be said to be of much importance. The first-named
species is found in slight abundance just westward of Port Moody and occasionally on the flats
of the Narrows. It is of interest solely on account of its occasional appearance in the markets.
The cockle is found more frequently and occasionally in considerable quantity.
3. Enemies.—There are no especially injurious enemies found in the inlet. The large
borer, Polynices lewissii, is found sparsely, as are starfish. The building of wharves, the
dredging of the flats, and the utilization of the beds for booms damages them very greatly,
and may in time mean their extinction. The oil-refinery a short distance westward of Port
Moody, on the southern shore of the Inlet, allows to escape large quantities of oil and waste,
which flow on to the water and float there as a slight but continuous film. At the time of
my inspection there was a large amount of it a distance of a mile or a mile and a half along
the shore in the neighbourhood of the refinery, and for three-quarters of a mile all life was
killed off along the beach. This film of oil is not merely destructive of clam and beach life in
general, but also to the water-birds which may chance to alight in it. Allowing this to escape
in such a fashion is generally punishable by law in all countries.
4. Methods of Utilization of the Supply.—At the present day in the United States and in
other countries as well there is a great tendency to combination in the handling of fish, and
shell-fish are usually handled by the same people as are the fish. In Vancouver, however, this
is far from being the case. It is unique in being supplied by Indian diggers, who market their
own produce in the streets, and this fact, it seems to me, is worthy of record as of historical
interest. The general relation of the Indian to the clam and salmon industries is an important
one and worthy of careful consideration. It is evident that the state of affairs in Vancouver
is one which is rapidly passing, as it is a peculiar survival of old conditions. The Indians have
been allowed to occupy the reserves opposite the city up to the present time, until these have
become very valuable, and it is now proposed to sell them and move the Indians to the main
Squamish Reserve. When this is done it is probable that the clam-digging will fall into other
hands, if it is carried on at all.
Every suitable low tide there may be seen on the flats a number of the Indians, for the
most part the women, barefoot or with old rubber boots. Occasionally the men come out, but
not often. The clams are dug with a short steel blade with a home-made handle, or by means
of an old butcher-knife. This requires the taking of a rather uncomfortable squatting position,
and most white men use a fork or spade. As fast as the clams are found they are thrown into
a home-made basket, which may hold as much as 25 ft., and when this is full it is carried to
the canoe and another taken to fill. Each woman digs about 50 ft. or more in the low tide.
From the beds the clams are either taken home and held overnight, or taken across the bay to 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 51
sell. The primitive dug-out canoe is still used for this purpose, and every morning these may
be seen tied up at the foot of Gore Street. The marketing is always done by the squaws. The
clams are carried in baskets, one in either hand and a third strung over the back by a forehead
band or otherwise. As is usual with Indians, the price is that which is most likely to be
obtained, although the markets usually give them about 25 cents per basket. This means
about 3 cents per pound. I was informed by some of the tribe that these women in cases
possessed $3,000 or $4,000 as a result of their clam-digging, but cannot vouch for this.
There are 200 of the Indians in the two reserves, one at the mouth of Capilano Creek
and another at the eastern end of the flats of the First Narrows. Of these, I was informed
by the father in charge of the Catholic Mission on the reserve that from ten to fifteen derived
at least a part of their livelihood from digging clams, this, of course, meaning only the adults,
each of them perhaps having others dependent in part on them. During the proper season
all the Indians are employed in the salmon-canneries, thus filling in the time when the clams
are popularly supposed to be out of season.
During the past year there have been two white men employed in digging clams for the
Vancouver market, selling their catch in the streets with a cart and horse. As they are said
to undersell the Indians, it is probable that the selling of clams is profitable even to white
men at the present scale of wages. There seems to be, however, a general aversion to engage
in the work as long as it is considered the work of an Indian.
XI. Clam-beds of the Eastern Side of Vancouver Island.
These beds are all easily reached by railroad, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad
touching all the points on the coast from Nanoose Bay to the southern end of Saanich Inlet,
and the Victoria and Sidney Railroad all those on the Saanich Peninsula. The beds are
situated at Nanaimo Harbour, Kuleet Bay, Chemainus River Flats, Cowichan Harbour, Union
Bay, and along Cordova Channel. They are thus all available for the supply of Victoria, as
well as Vancouver and the smaller towns along the coast. The beds of value are almost all
those of the " butter-clam," Saxidomus giganteus,   and the " little-neck," Paphia staminea.
1. Departure Bay and Nanaimo Harbour.—Departure Bay and Nanaimo Harbour are
at the ends of the same body of water, that lying behind Newcastle and Protection Islands.
Nanaimo is a town about seventy-three miles distant from Victoria and forty from Vancouver.
It is the shipping-point for many of the small beds of the surrounding islands and bays.
The value of the beach along the water-front of the city is greatly impaired by the presence of
the coal-docks and herring-salteries, as well as the sewage that is emptied over them from the
town sewers. There is situated here a clam-cannery, as mentioned in a preceding part of the
report, and clams are brought from False Narrows, Comox, and even Thetis and Kuper
The clam-beds in Departure Bay are those of Paphia and Saxidomus, lying in rather
narrow beaches along the inner shore and the north-west edge of Newcastle Island. There
are 4 acres, utilized by the Indians in part, which are good beds, and a considerable area which
has sparse quantities of the other species. Those beds along the water-front of the city cannot
be regarded as of value. At the mouth of the Nanaimo River there is an extensive area, with
the eockle and the " otter-shell " clam, with an acre or so of Mya arenaria, the " mud-clam "
beds, but they cannot be said to be valuable as a whole. They are not suitable for oysters,
apparently, because of the character of the bottom and the fresh water of the river. It might
be possible to build up a bed of eastern oysters, but the prospects are not bright for this. As
a whole, the beds in this immediate locality cannot be said to be of much value.
2. Kuleet Bay.—Kuleet Bay is a small cove about three and a half miles from Ladysmith
by water and three or four by land, to the north-east; exposed to a long stretch of straits to
the north-east and east. At present an Indian village lies on the south-western shore, near a
couple of lagoons. The clam-beds lie along the head and southern shore, covering about 2J
acres, more or less, and are formed of light gravel. Paphia staminea, the " little-neck," is
most abundant, and Saxidomus giganteus, the "butter-clam," is next, with some Cardium,
corbis, the cockle. The second species is probably kept well gathered by the Indians. The
beds are not of great value.
I was informed that Ostrea lurida, the native oyster, had been planted in one of the
lagoons, but at the time that I was there there were none to be observed. It is possible that
these lagoons are suitable for them, but each is somewhat less than an acre in extent and
too high. I 52 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
4. The Saanich Peninsula.—The Saanich peninsula has a number of small beds along its
northern end and along Cordova Channel, as well as in Union Bay. The shipping-point is
Sidney, on the eastern side, eighteen miles from Victoria by the Victoria and Sidney Railroad.
At Sidney is situated the cannery of the Sidney Trading Company, which is supplied by the
beds to the north on the islands, as well as those on the shores of the peninsula.
The most extensive and productive clam-beds lie to the south of Sidney, but I was told
that these were not utilized by the Indians to any great extent. They extend for about two
miles along the shores of what is known as Bazan Bay. The beds are coarse gravel, and
possess a moderately abundant supply of clams, covering at the most but 15 acres, of which
probably a third is commercially valuable. Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, the
"little-neck" and the "butter-clam," are found.
North of Sidney lies Shoal Harbour, which is the union of a number of small, shallow
muddy bays, with but a small area of productive flats. Of these the greater part is soft, deep
mud bottom, and not more than 2 or 3 acres show any clams whatever. These are Paphia
staminea and Saxidomus giganteus. There is a small area in the southern portion which may
be fit for the eastern oyster, but it cannot be said to be very promising. If the bottom were
modified, it is probable that much more could be utilized.
Along the northern end of the peninsula there are scattered numerous small beds,
composing about a twenty-fifth of the whole shore-line, and very narrow but of good quality.
There may be about an acre of these, with the " little-neck " and the " butter-clam."
On the west side of Saanich Peninsula are Deep Cove and Union Bay, portions of which
might be utilized for native-oyster beds. Paphia staminea is found in abundance in the
northern half of Deep Cove, about half an acre in extent, Union Bay has about 2 acres of
clam-beds of Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus in fair abundance, with about an
acre of Macoma secta beds. Of the whole bay, it is possible that the southern half could be
utilized for transplanted oysters, but their propagation, either native or eastern, could not be-
5. Cowichan Harbour.—This is at the mouth of the Cowichan River, about four miles by
road from Duncan, on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad, and about fifteen miles from.
Sidney by water. On its southern shore is the Cowichan Harbour wharf and a few houses,
including those of a number of Indians. At the head of the harbour is the Koksilah Indian
Reserve. There are about 350 acres of tide-flats, of which 40 may be said to be productive.
These are in a rectangular area at the mouth of the river. From this stretch there extends a long
narrow strip along the shore of the southern side as far as Boatswains Bank, three and a half
miles from the wharf. In this piece there is approximately 40 acres of productive beds. Of the
rectangular area at the river-mouth nothing but the edge and the southern angle is productive,,
the species found being Cardium corbis, the " cockle," and Schizothoerus nuttalli, the
" otter-shell." These are not often dug, as most of the diggers prefer the more densely
populated beds along the southern edge of the harbour. Here is found for the most part
Saxidomus giganteus, the "butter-clam," but Paphia staminea and Schizothoerus nuttalli are
also found to some extent. It is one of the most popular of the clam-beds, and at all the
low tides people may be seen digging clams here. This is especially true on Sundays. The
Indians of the near-by reserve also make good use of the clams, both the cockle and the other
species. I was informed that the canneries have also made use of the beds, but this I cannot
vouch for, as I did not inspect the beds during the canning season. These beds are
undoubtedly valuable.
6. Chemainus River Flats.—The mouth of the Chemainus River is about fifty-two miles
from Victoria by railroad, and forty from Vancouver by water. The total area of the flats
is about two and a half square miles, of which somewhat more than one is productive of shellfish of some sort. At present nothing but oysters is marketed from the flats, and these are
transplanted from Ladysmith. Crofton is distant a mile and a half, and Chemainus but half
a mile to the north. Either of these places may be utilized for shipment, the former by water
The flats are of sedimentary formation, being, in fact, a delta. The river breaks at high-
tide line into branches and spreads over the bottoms. Around the outer side of the delta there
are a number of small islets, lying parallel to the coast and connected at half-tide with it.
Between the islets and the shore the flats are high and non-productive for the most part, but
at the northen end and outside of the islets there are large flats that are low and weed-covered,,
with some shell-fish.    As is usual with river-flats, there are extents of different bottom, weeded. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 53
heavily or nearly bare, soft-bottomed or somewhat firm. At the southern end there is a
considerable extent between the scattered islands of this end which is firm and somewhat
sandy, bordered on the low-tide line by broad reaches of weeded flats. The latter are continued
up the whole of the outer side of the islands and southward around the bend of Osborn
The species of clams found living in the flats are: Mya arenaria, the "soft-shell mud-
clam " ; Schizothoerus nuttalli, the " otter-shell " ; Cardium corbis, the " cockle " ; Paphia
staminea, the " little-neck " ; and a few of the " butter-clam," Saxidomus giganteus. They are
placed somewhat in the order of their abundance, but from the standpoint of present utilization
the cockle only is important. Macoma secta, the " white-sand clam," is found in the firm
white sand of the southern end, but is not utilized. The cockle is found on the outer beaches,
the soft-shell mud-clam on the higher flats in less than commercial abundance, the little-neck in
small quantity in the northern end and in the gravelly parts of the southern, while the large
otter-shell is found over the outer parts of the flats. The type of flat is much the same as that
at Boundary Bay, and the enemies are the same.
At present there is an Indian family living on one of the outer islands, and they dig the
cockle for there own use by primitive methods. As far as I was able to ascertain, they do not
sell much of there product. It cannot be said that at present these flats are to be regarded
as very valuable, but they may become so if oysters are transplanted to them in greater quantity
and the canneries begin to utilize other species of clams than is done at present.
XII. The Clam-beds of the Islands South-east of Vancouver Island.
These islands, extending from Nanaimo on the north to Saanich Peninsula, seem to form
irregular arcs of circles drawn with the mouth of the Fraser River as a centre, and the long
axis of each island extends north-west to south-east. Vancouver is thirty miles from the
nearest of them, while Victoria is fifteen from the southernmost and seventy-five from the
northern end of the group. They are rocky, with stone or gravel beaches in great part, rough
and hilly, with but few large bays or harbours, Ganges Harbour being the largest. It is
unlikely that they will ever become densely inhabited save in the most favourable places. At
present regular transportation service is by steamer once or twice a week to one or two of the
islands.    Numerous private launches and small boats are owned among the islands.
The shipping-points which would be made use of are Ganges Harbour, Sidney, Chemainus,
Ladysmith, and Nanaimo. Ganges Harbour is on Salt Spring Island, about forty miles from
Vancouver and thirty-five from Victoria. Chemainus, Ladysmith, and Nanaimo are on the
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad, and are respectively fifty-two, fifty-nine, and seventy-three
miles from Victoria. Sidney is about eighteen miles from Victoria by the Victoria and Sidney
Railroad. These places are the most convenient for the establishment of canneries. In
treating of each island, its approximate position in regard to one of these places will be given.
No other convenient method of subdivision for the treatment of the area presents itself save
that of the islands.
As a general rule, the beds on the islands are of a different type than those of Boundary
Bay, resembling to some degree those of Burrard Inlet. The species most generally found are
the little-neck and the butter-clam, but the other species are occasionally found. The second-
named species is the one used almost exclusively by the canneries and is at present the most
highly valued.    The beds of the first two are usually densely stocked.
1. Sidney Island.—Between Saanich peninsula and San Juan Island lies Sidney Island.
On its northern end is a long sandspit about a mile in length, a broad beach runs down the
whole western side, and on the eastern there is a shallow bay. The sandspit has a small bed
of Saxidomus giganteus, the " butter-clam," and Paphia staminea, the " little-neck " at its tip
of not more than 2 acres in extent. Either side of the gradually broadening spit is typically
fine grey sand on the lower third of the beach, heavy weeds above, and a gravel or sandy area
at the highest level. In the fine grey sand are found large numbers of the white-sand clam,
Macoma secta, probably an area of 8 or 9 acres. At the base of the spit, on the western side,
is a large lagoon, which is utterly barren, probably because of its very soft bottom. At its
entrance are small beds of Paphia staminea and Mya arenaria, less than an acre. At about
the centre of the island is a moderately abundant bed of the large " otter-shell clam." The
bay on the east coast is edged by gravel beach in which is a fairly good bed of Saxidomus and
Paphia, probably 3 acres. The total area of clam-beds of commercial importance may be
placed at about 6 acres.    They are " feeders " for the Sidney cannery. I 54 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
2. Salt Spring Island.—The principal beds of the island lie in Ganges Harbour, Long
Harbour, and Fulford Harbour, while the smaller are found along the northern shores and in
the shallower bays of the western side. Salt Spring is the largest of the islands and has the
greatest extent of clam-beds.
(a.) Ganges Harbour.—This is a bay on the east side of Salt Spring Island, at a distance
of about sixteen miles from Sidney, and hence about thirty-two from Victoria, although five
or six miles farther by the water route. The distance from Vancouver is about fifty miles.
It is the principal wharf and post-office on the island, and roads connect it with all parts.
The most valuable bed in Ganges Harbour lies in the lagoon on the south-western side.
It contains a great abundance of Paphia staminea, the "little-neck," and a fair proportion of
Saxidomus giganteus, the " butter-clam." The total area of clam-bed in and near this lagoon
is approximately 15 to 20 acres, a part of which lies on the outer side of the spit enclosing the
lagoon, in a bed about 15 yards wide. The upper end of the lagoon is somewhat muddy, and
the centre weeded. No oysters were present, although there is no apparent reason why they
should not flourish here if transplanted. The spat would always be lost, however. A small
stream of fresh water enters near the mouth of the lagoon, but during the summer did not
provide a very large volume. Mya arenaria, the "soft-shell mud-clam," is found in slight
abundance around its mouth. The lagoon is but a few minutes' run from Ganges Harbour,
but does not seem to have been utilized very greatly by clam-diggers.
The beaches to the south of the lagoon are not of great extent, and are productive mainly
of Macoma secta, the "white-sand clam." The beaches on the east side of the harbour are small,
but occupied by Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus.
(b.) Fulford Harbour.—This is a southern inlet of Salt Spring Island, its head about
eight miles from Sidney. It is bordered on both sides by very steep and high hills. There is
no large settlement, a few residences being situated along the eastern side and a store at the
head of the bay. The clam-beds are utilized by the Indians digging for the Sidney Trading
Company, and I was informed by local residents that the beds were depleted to a considerable
degree. They are the nearest beds to the cannery, and would, of course, be dug more
extensively. The total area of productive beds is 4 or 5 acres, although probably double that
is inhabited by clams.
Along the eastern side of the bay there are four small coves, on the western two fairly
broad beaches, and at the head of the bay an extensive flat of light gravel. The coves possess
beaches of very small area and no great value, although native oysters might be grown in them
by transplantation. The beach at the head of the bay is apparently well fitted for native
oysters, and may be utilized for transplanted beds. At present Tapes staminea is found in
very slight abundance over the whole, and in commercial abundance at the eastern side in
an area of a quarter of an acre along the shore-line. The beaches of the western shore are
two in number, the southernmost with less than an acre of gravel-bed with clams. The
northern is an extension of that at the head of the bay, and has about an acre of good clam-
beds at one end and slightly more at the other, making about 2 acres. It is covered in great
part by log-booms and the beds thus rendered poorer.
(c.) Long Harbour.—This is a long narrow inlet on the south-east side of Salt Spring
Island, separated from Ganges Harbour by a long peninsula, the heads of the two harbours
being but a short distance apart. Its width is but 400 or 500 yards at the most, and less than
100 at the head. The length of the harbour is between three or four miles. The greater
portion of the inlet is bordered by rocky beaches until within less than a mile of the head.
At this distance fairly extensive beaches are found on the eastern side, and farther toward the
head there are also similar beaches found along the western side. The flats at the head of the
inlet are of small extent, at a rough estimate about 15 to 20 acres being good oyster-ground.
The population around the head of the harbour is at present small, but two or three families
living there.    The supply of fresh water is small and enters at the head of the flats.
The principal beds are those of the " small-clam," Paphia staminea, of the Vancouver
markets, and these are as rich as any in the southern end of the Province. The clam is of
good size and colour, and the beds should become of considerable commercial importance as
soon as the species is sought for canning purposes. When rapid transportation to Vancouver
is secured, there is no reason why that market should not be supplied in part from these beds.
They are situated in the steeply sloping beaches on cither side of the upper reaches of the
inlet, particularly on the eastern side. The width of the bed is small on either side, as the
soft-shell or mud-clam, Mya arenaria, displaces them above.    A crude estimate places the total 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 55
area as about 3 or 4 acres of actual clam-bearing ground. I am inclined to place the value of
these clams above that of the oysters at the head of the inlet. The character of the bottom
in which they are found is the usual gravelled sand, with an admixture of mud.
There is a considerable amount of the soft-shell or mud-clam found, the area of whose
beds is very much less than that of the other species, but the value of those that exist is
considerable. They are of good size and fair abundance. The " butter-clam," or Saxidomus
giganteus, is found in very small quantity, and cannot be considered of very great value. The
same is true of the cockle, Cardium corbis.
(d.) Booth Bay.—This is an open inlet about two miles distant from the head of Ganges
Harbour by land, but on the opposite side of the island. It is steep-shored, open to northwest winds, and the outer beaches are of doubtful value from a shell-fish standpoint. The
Booth Canal opens into its head.    There may be an acre of shell-fish beds here.
(«.) Vesuvius Bay.—This is an open cove a mile and a quarter north of Booth Bay, with
less than an acre of good clam-beds, for the most part Saxidomus giganteus.
(f.) Northern End of Salt Spring Island.—The clam-beds are found here on small
beaches at Fernwood Point, along Houston Passage, at Southey Point, and probably do not
aggregate more than 10 acres. Of this the major portion is of low value. Paphia staminea
and Saxidomus giganteus, the "little-neck " and the " butter-clam," are the most abundant.
3. Galiano Island.—Montague Harbour and Retreat Cove contain practically all the
clam-beds on the island. The former has gravel beaches containing a fair supply of Paphia
staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, over a total area of at most 7 acres. Immediately to the
north of the harbour is a small bed in a bight of the shore about an acre in extent, containing
Cardium corbis for the most part. Retreat Cove has not more than an acre of good clam-bed,
containing Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus. Ganges Harbour is their nearest
port, seven or eight miles in the case of Montague Harbour and about twelve in that of
Retreat Cove. Their beds are important simply as parts of the numerous small ones available
for the clam-canneries.
4. Prevost Island.—This island lies just outside of the mouth of Ganges Harbour. There
are about 2 acres of good clam-beds to the island. Annette Cove, on the northern side of the
island, contains about 7 acres of muddy bottom, with very few clams. Parts of this might
be available for oysters. James Bay, on the same side, contains slightly less than an acre
of good clam-beds along the southern side and another at its head, making about If acres of
Paphia staminea beds. A short beach lies on the western side behind a small island opposite
the head of Annette Cove, with about a fifth of an acre of abundant Paphia staminea.
5. Pender Island.—Pender Island is composed of two portions separated by a canal
connecting two harbours, Bedwell and Browning. In the latter are the only beds on the
islands worth consideration. They are thirteen or fourteen miles from Sidney. There are
about 1 or 2 acres of good Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus beds at the eastern
mouth of the canal. At the northern end of the harbour there are three or four more, but
with a less abundant supply.
6. Saturna Island.—Saturna Island is just the other side of Pender Island from Sidney,
a distance of half a mile. It is thirteen miles from Ganges Harbour. The clam-beds are
situated at Winter Cove, Lyal Harbour, and Boot Cove, covering about 10 acres or more.
The first has rocky shores, interspersed with muddy gra.vel beaches containing Paphia
staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, with some soft-shell clams, Mya arenaria. Lyal Harbour
has the same type of beaches along the southern end and eastern side. Boot Cove is a well-
enclosed shallow bay with muddy beaches containing Mya arenaria. The only use to which
the clams were being put in the latter place was as food for a herd of pigs which dug the
clams out at low tide.
7. Secretary Islands.—Between the two small Secretary Islands there is a small bed
of Paphia staminea and Saxidomus giganteus of an acre and a half. It is fifteen miles from
Ganges Harbour.    The beds are well stocked, and show traces of digging.
8. Gabriola Island—Gabriola Island is important chiefly because of the flats at the
south-east end of False Narrows. This is about eight and a half miles from Nanaimo. The
supply for the clam-cannery of Broder and Menairy at Nanaimo was said to have come from
these beds during the year 1911-12. The "little-neck," Paphia staminea ; the "butter-clam,"
Saxidomus giganteus; Mytilus edulis, the mussel ; and a few of the other species of clams
were found. These beds lie between Gabriola Island and Mudge Island, at the south-west
end of a narrow passage, through which the tidal currents ebb and flow at about three or four I 56 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
knots. On the map accompanying, the Saxidomus beds are stippled. The mussel-beds are
well stocked and should prove valuable if the species is ever utilized. The total area of
productive flat is less than 50 acres, of which two-thirds may be termed good beds (in the
past, in part).    Their composition is a coarse gravel.
During the clam season, which extends from September to May, it is said that as many
as a hundred Indians are digging at one time during the good tides, but this may be exaggerated somewhat. During the inspection of the beds there was no digging being done.
This number of Indians means about forty families. Their shacks or tents are set up on the
Mudge Island shore, and the clams are carried to the cannery in their canoes or in the
launches. Two persons may manage to gather as many as six sacks at low tide, according to
the local residents, but I think this a little high. A potato-fork or a spade is usually
employed. It is obvious that this is too much of a strain on the beds, and, as would be
expected, they were exhausted, for the year at least. This area is one of the best of the
island beds, and must be considered very valuable. oi
s  E-i
2 =5
rS   +J
o u
«  OS
EH    ■SO
Lvj                                                      4-1
/•*                                  °
HHhy--               50
IMP               ^
■Mff                 >
-Jf JBfjS VWE^bWii^
9k'             c»
ij '^i^f^jji^ *&
|He               —
£l^&^/ i-jF^F/toy
• j^<--
,..-#■•***                     —  ti
CO  w
V d
:      ■■■:   :-   f'■■■
te-.                                         H
■  ■   '■".-.'■   '
E   IX.
- r^, j*.    ^"^
nail  Bo
fe              ^^BB.
pr/ ?
~      Ik"   '      V
1—1         ^^^
M&   ^
Macoma secta, Conrad   {'
_*/              s
S  Plate XI.
Thais sasoicola, Valencienne ("Small Borer"), its egg-capsules,
and a valve of Mytilus edulis, Linnaeus, showing at its upper end
the hole made by the drill of the borer. (One and one-fifth times
natural  size.)
Polyniees lewisii, Gould  ("Large Borer").   (Small example, life-
size.)   ■      3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 57
By Charles H. Gilbert, Professor op Zoology, Stanford University.
(Republished  by  permission   of the   Bureau   of Fisheries,    Washington,   D.C.)
During the past two summers (1910 and 1911) the writer has been engaged on behalf of
the United States Bureau of Fisheries in determining the age at maturity of the five species
of Pacific Coast salmon, together with such other facts of their life-history as can be inferred
from the structure of their scales. The problem has a peculiar interest as concerns these
species because of the fact, now sufficiently demonstrated, that all individuals perish when
they have attained sexual maturity. They spawn but once and then die, whatever the age or
size at which sexual maturity has been reached* and whatever may be their physical
condition at the time of spawning. This peculiarity in their life-history renders the question
of their age at maturity an unusually important one, both from the scientific fish-cultural and
the purely economic standpoints.
Many attempts have been made to solve the problem for the two species commercially
most important—the king salmon and the sockeye—usually by marking the artificially reared
fry by clipping one of their fins before they are liberated, in the hope of recognizing
the adult fish on their return at maturity. Unfortunately, these important experiments
have lacked adequate supervision, and have furnished somewhat discordant and uncertain
results. These have been supplemented, however, by the experiments in Tomales Bay, Cal,
and in New Zealand, where fry were planted in streams not frequented by the species in
question and the return of the adults was noted. Also, in the case of the sockeye, we have
had as additional evidence the quadrennial increase in the Fraser River, which has been very
generally accepted as demonstrating a four-year cycle for this species.
All the evidence available was considered by F. M. Chamberlain, in his highly valuable
" Observations on Salmon and Trout in Alaska " (Bureau of Fisheries Document No. 627,
1907), with the resulting conclusion (p. 66):—
"There seems to be sufficient reason for believing four years to be the usual term of life
for the sockeye and the king salmon, but experiment has pretty conclusively shown that thev
may mature in less time or may be retarded beyond that term."
This may be accepted as an adequate statement of our belief respecting these species up
to the present time. It has lacked in definiteness and in detail. No conclusive evidence has
been presented concerning the age of the markedly undersized fish or " grilse," which are
conspicuous parts of the king salmon and sockeye runs. We have no knowledge concerning
the extreme age which any species may attain, nor concerning the proportions in which
different ages are represented in the spawning run. Furthermore, the question of size with
relation to age has been wholly undetermined, the belief being yet widely entertained that no
such relation exists, size being solely dependent on richness of feeding in the sea.
There remains to be noticed a recent attempt by Prof. J. P. McMurrichf to solve these
problems by a consideration of scale and otolith markings. The figures of scales and otoliths
presented in this paper show sufficiently that these structures present seasonal markings which
when correctly interpreted will afford reliable indication of age. It is to be sincerely regretted
that Prof. McMurrich's interpretations have been based on inadequate data, and these have
misled him into announcing a series of conclusions so largely erroneous as to confuse rather
than clarify the questions at issue. A further discussion of these matters will appear under
each of the species considered below.
* With the possible exception of certain male king salmon fingerlings, which mature precociously in the
streams during their first year, at a length of 3 to 7 inches.   The fate of these has not as yet been determined.
t" The Life Cycles of Pacific Coast Salmon belonging to the Genus Oncorhynchus, as revealed by their
Otolith and Scale Markings."    Transactions Roj'al Society of Canada, 1912. I 58 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
The present paper contains a purely preliminary statement of certain facts in the history
of our salmon which can be substantiated through a study of scale-structure. This method
offers certain obvious advantages over that of determining the age by marking the young,
although the latter method should be employed and rigidly supervised in corroboration of the
former. But the scale method is of unlimited application. Any desired number of individuals
can be investigated in connection with size and sex and other modifying factors. It thus
becomes possible to analyse an entire salmon run into its age components, and each of these
can then be the subject of further investigation and analysis. We can thus determine the
range in size of each group and of the males and females separately for each age, and when
definite events in the life-history of the fish record themselves upon the scales—as we believe
to be the case—corresponding categories can be formed and the possible effects of these events
on growth and period of maturity can be determined. A very wide usefulness, therefore,
attaches to this method, and for its proper elaboration discriminating study of many thousand
specimens must be made.
While the method is new as regards Pacific salmon, it has been experimentally tested
and fully approved by the Fisheries Board of Scotland in the case of the Atlantic salmon, and is
now universally accepted as furnishing reliable data as to the age and many o her facts in the
life-history of that fish. It has been shown to be applicable also to various species of trout,
and its value has been demonstrated in fishes as widely divergent as the carp, the eel, the
bass, the flounder, and the cod. Descriptions of this scale-structure and its significance have
appeared in a large number of papers, both scientific and popular. It will suffice here to
repeat that the scale in general persists throughout life, and grows in proportion with the rest
of the fish, principally by additions around its border. At intervals there is produced at the
growing edge a delicate ridge upon the surface of the scale, the successive ridges thus formed
being concentric and subcircular in contour, each representing the outline of the scale at a
certain period in its development. Many of these ridges are formed in the course of a year's
growth, the number varying so widely in different individuals and during successive years in
the history of the same individual that number alone cannot be depended on to determine age.
For this purpose we rely upon the fact that the fish grows at widely different rates during
different seasons of the year, spring-summer being a period of rapid growth and fall-winter a
season when growth is greatly retarded or almost wholly arrested. During the period of
rapid growth the ridges are widely separated, while during the slow growth of fall and winter
the ridges are crowded closely together, forming a dense band. Thus it comes that the surface
of the scale is mapped out in a definite succession of areas, a band of widely spaced rings
always followed by a band of closely crowded rings, the two together constituting a single
year's growth. That irregularities occur will not be denied, and this is natural, inasmuch as
growth may be checked by other causes than the purely seasonal one. Also a considerable
experience is requisite for the correct interpretation in many cases, and a small residue of scales
of doubtful significance has always remained. This element is too small to affect the general
results, and further investigation will almost certainly eliminate the doubtful cases altogether.
Sockeye or Red Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka).
(Figs. 1 to 4, 6, 10, 12, 30.)
The sockeye, red salmon, or blueback, as it is variously known, has been assumed to
mature principally if not wholly in four years, on the basis of the constant four-year periodicity
in the magnitude of its run in the Fraser River. Richardson is reported as having marked
young sockeye at Karluk, Alaska, and observed their return at four years on the average.
Chamberlain marked young hatched from 1902 eggs and planted the marked fry in the Naha
River, Alaska. The return of adults bearing the appropriate mark was reported in 1906 and
1907, and has continued to be reported for each year since that date, including the summer
of 1911. If these results are accepted, individuals may even reach the age of nine years
before maturing; but this is a conclusion so at variance with other evidence and with general
probability that complete corroboration is required.
Finally, on the basis of scale and otolith structure, McMurrich announces four years as
the age of adult Fraser River sockeye and two years for the undersized or grilse form. But
as he frankly bases his investigation upon the a priori assumption that Fraser River sockeye
must be four years old, and interprets scale and otolith structure in accordance with that
assumption, it can hardly  be claimed  that his conclusion adds anything to our previous 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 59
knowledge. This becomes the more apparent upon an examination of his figures, which indicate
that he unfortunately chose for examination certain large specimens which were in reality five
years old and not four. Forced by this method to make an erroneous interpretation of the
central area of the scale, all his conclusions are vitiated which deal with the sockeye, the king
salmon, and the cohoe. Thus the sockeye grilse is a three-year and not a two-year fish, a fact
which we learn with some relief, in view of the very large numbers of grilse which regularly
make their appearance three years after each quadrennial big run in the Fraser and the small
numbers which can be observed in the intervening years. For reasons which will appear later,
McMurrich's initial error did not to the same extent affect his interpretation of the scales of
the humpback and dog salmon.
Our knowledge of the life-history of the young sockeye is founded first on the important
researches of Commissioner J. P. Babcock for the Fraser River (Report Fisheries Commissioner
for British Columbia, 1903), and later of Chamberlain, for certain streams in Alaska. These
investigators agree that in the early spring two sizes of young sockeye may be found together
in the streams on their downward migration to the sea. The smaller of these comprise fry of
the year hatched from eggs of the preceding fall, and are then about 1-J inches long. Those
of larger size are yearlings, which, instead of running out to sea the previous spring as fry, have
remained in the lake during the first year and have grown during that time to a length of 3
or 4 inches.
The relative proportions of fry and yearling migrants in such streams as the Fraser and
the Karluk are unknown. More fry have usually been captured in the fine-meshed nets
employed for the purpose, but the superior strength and wariness of the larger yearlings have
doubtless affected the result. It is also unknown whether in the same stream these two groups
remain relatively constant in size or fluctuate widely from year to year in accordance with
changing conditions of unknown nature. Chamberlain has pointed out that in the Naha River,
Alaska, all the young remain in the lake during their first year, and migrate in their second
spring as yearlings. It seems very probable that the chances of survival of yearling migrants
is better than that of the fry, in which case a larger proportion of adults might be derived
from that group, even in streams where considerable numbers migrate as fry. As will be
shown below, the scales develop differently in the two groups. The history of each group can
therefore be traced and the proportions which attain maturity can be determined.
In his interpretation of the sockeye scale, McMurrich assumes that thirteen of the fourteen
specimens which he examined belonged to the group which migrated as fry, the central close-
ringed area of the scale having been formed during their brief life in fresh water. But, as a
matter of fact, at the time when young fry migrate no scales whatever have made their
appearance. In this group, therefore, the adult scales contain no record of life in lake and
stream, even the innermost rings having been formed under marine or estuarrial conditions.
The close-ringed area which forms the centre of the scale in McMurrich's specimens, as well
as in the great majority of Fraser River sockeyes (PL 3, Fig. 4), designates members of the
second group, which have remained in their native stream or lake until their second spring.
It presents, therefore, such record as we have of approximately the first year and a half of
their life-cycle. PL 5, Fig. 10, represents a scale, enlarged forty diameters, of a yearling 3J
inches long, taken in the Fraser River in April, 1903, by J. S. Burcham, working under
instructions of Commissioner J. P. Babeock. The scales in different yearlings captured at the
same time and place differ considerably in size of scale and the number of rings which they
contain. Precisely similar variations are found in the nuclear areas of the adult scales, these
being larger in some individuals than in others, and containing more numerous rings. Every
variety of scale from migrating yearlings can be matched in the close-ringed centres of adult
scales, both as regards actual size and in the number and arrangement of the rings. We can
entertain no doubt, therefore, that the two have had an identical history. (See PL 3, Fig. 4,
with centre of adult scale enlarged forty diameters.)
The peripheral part of the scale seldom offers any difficulty. After life has begun in the
sea, a regular alternation occurs of bands of widely spaced and of narrowly spaced rings, as
shown in PL 1, Fig. 1, the widely spaced rings representing the vigorous growth of spring and
summer, the narrow rings the retarded growth of fall and winter. Finally, at the margin of
scale of the mature sockeye about to enter the Fraser are found a few widely spaced rings,
indicating that the rapid growth of the summer in which maturity is attained early comes to
an abrupt conclusion. This is true in the sockeye in greater degree than in other species
of the genus, and may have its explanation in the earlier date at which mature sockeye discon- I 60 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
tinue feeding. All species of Pacific salmon (the steelhead is not here considered) cease to
feed on entering fresh water at maturity, but the sockeye is extreme in this regard. Those
bound for the Fraser are already fasting when first encountered along the Vancouver Island
shore at the entrance to the Straits of Fuca, where other species are feeding greedily. The
sockeyes are then over 100 miles from the mouth of the Fraser and are assuredly at that time
not under the influence of fresh water. Fishermen are well acquainted with the fact that the
sockeye, unlike the king salmon and the cohoe, are not to be taken by trolling, even when
first they strike the coast.
With these facts in mind, we turn to PL 2, Fig. 3, and PL 3, Fig. 4, which represent a scale
typical of a majority of the sockeyes of the Fraser River run. The nuclear area of finely
crowded rings contains no record of the first winter after the eggs are laid, but represents the
first summer and second winter which were spent in the lake. The broad band of widely
spaced rings surrounding the nuclear area was formed in the sea and represents the second
summer, thus completing the second year of the cycle. Then follow a narrow winter band of
closely spaced rings and a second distinct summer band, constituting the third year of the
cycle, and another winter band and the short marginal summer band of the fourth year.
While the majority of the Fraser River run are in their fourth year as shown by the
evidence here adduced, a considerable number of them, including all the larger individuals,
are just as evidently in their fifth year. The four-year fish show, outside the nuclear area,
three summers' growth and two winters' growth in the sea. The five-year fish as shown in
PL 4, Fig. 6, have just as distinctly, outside the nuclear area, four summers' growth and
three winters' growth in the sea. As is given in a later table, there is a wide overlapping in
size of the four- and the five-year fish, but all the smaller specimens are four years and all the
larger are five years old. The specimens examined and figured by Prof. McMurrich unfortunately were chosen from among the larger of those to be found on the cannery-floor.
The great majority of the Fraser River sockeyes have scales of the type above described,
the nuclear area being small, of crowded rings, and sharply set off from the widely spaced
summer rings which surround them. As we have shown, these have all developed from fish
which migrated seaward as yearlings. A different type is represented by PL 6, Fig. 12, in
which it is seen that the nuclear area is much larger, the rings less closely crowded and
widening gradually outward, until in extreme cases they merge almost imperceptibly with the
succeeding summer rings. A scale of this type is figured by Prof. McMurrich (PL III.) and is
interpreted by him as indicating a fish " which went to sea as a yearling in the second spring
after hatching." But the very reverse would seem to be the case. The large size and more
widely spaced rings of the nuclear area indicate that growth in those individuals which spent
their first year at sea is much more rapid than in those which remain in fresh water, and this
is in accord with the few experiments which have been made with king salmon to determine
that point. But more conclusive evidence of the history of these fish is found on comparing
their type of scale with the scales of the humpback and dog-salmon, which always migrate
seaward shortly after hatching and while still in the fingerling stage. The nuclear area of
humpback and dog-salmon is exactly similar to the sockeye type last described, being comparatively large in size and of widely spaced rings. Furthermore, the king-salmon, which
migrates seaward partly as fingerlings and partly as yearlings, exhibits the same two types of
scale shown by the sockeye, one with a small nuclear area of crowded rings, formed as can be
demonstrated during the first year in fresh water, the other similar to the " sea type" of the
humpback and dog-salmon. While therefore we lack such direct demonstration as could be
obtained by marking sockeye fingerlings on their seaward migration and observing on their
return that the scales exhibit the " sea type " of nuclear area, there is yet sufficient evidence
for the correctness of the theory to warrant us in accepting it.
The possibility of distinguishing throughout their lives those individuals which passed to
sea immediately after hatching from those which migrated as yearlings has opened up a wide
field of investigation, upon which we have thus far barely entered. A certain practical difficulty
is encountered at the outset. In the majority of cases there is no question to which type a
given scale belongs. But among those of undoubted "sea-type," including humpbacks and
dog-salmon, as well as certain sockeyes and king salmon, there is found a tendency to the
narrowing of a few of the rings immediately surrounding the nucleus, forming a sort of core
to the nuclear area. The significance of this is in question, but we may perhaps hazard the
conjecture that in such a case the individual tarried in fresh water or played back and forth
on the tides for an appreciable time, during which growth was less rapid than in the majority 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 61
which passed directly out to sea. Whatever the cause, this tendency to a slight central
narrowing of rings of the nuclear area is of not infrequent occurrence in scales of the sea type,
and is occasionally so pronounced as to simulate the smaller and least typical of what we may
call for the purposes of distinction the " stream nucleus." In a small proportion of cases this
may be the source of genuine doubt as to the early history of the individual and incidentally
as to its age. For, if the nuclear narrowing be interpreted as indicating the first year spent
in fresh water, the age will be greater by one year than if it be interpreted as the central
narrowing of a large nuclear area of the " sea type." It is believed, however, that all doubt
of this character can be removed by further investigation. For purposes of a preliminary
discussion, like the present, as the doubtful cases are few in number, they can be omitted from
There is a fair indication—not to be taken as conclusive—that those individuals among
the sockeyes which proceed to sea shortly after attaining the free-swimming stage experience
a mortality far in excess of those which pass to sea as yearlings, but that those of the first
class which survive grow much more rapidly the first year than they would have done had they
remained in fresh water. To a certain extent they seem to maintain this preponderance in
size during succeeding years. In the Fraser River, as already indicated, only a very small
proportion of adult fish have developed from young which sought the sea during their first year.
Thus out of 625 individuals taken at random, without selection, from the cannery-floor, only
thirty-five belonged to this group, while 590 had spent their first year in their native waters.
So limited a number as thirty-five forms a wholly inadequate basis for generalizations, but it is
worthy of note that three of these were grilse, maturing in their third year, thirty were in
their fourth year, and only two in their fifth. If a larger series shall verify essentially the
proportions here indicated it will demonstrate that early migration of the young accelerates
growth and also the early coming to maturity, producing a larger proportion of grilse which
mature in their third year, and a much greater preponderance of fourth to fifth year fish than
occurs among those which migrate as yearlings. The increased size at the same age becomes
evident on comparing the three " sea type " grilse above mentioned with " stream " grilse
taken on the same date. The former were respectively 23, 23J, 23J inches long and weighed
4-f to 5-J lb. Sixteen grilse of the stream type taken on the same date (all that were secured)
show the following lengths in inches : 17|, 18, 18, 18|, 18J, 18J, 18|, 19, 19, 191, 191, 191,
19|, 20, 20J. Three of these, 18|-, 18J, and 19| inches long, weighed each 2| lb. It is further
noticeable that two of the three grilse of the sea type were females, while among Fraser River
grilse of the stream type females are so rare that we have thus far discovered but one among
over a hundred grilse examined. This is a matter, however, which may be subject to wide
variation in different streams. In the Columbia River, for instance, in 1910, grilse were
numerous, and males and females in approximately equal numbers.
In discussing the commercial value of a run the grilse may be omitted from consideration,
as ordinarily they are few in number and so small as to have practically no value. The
valuable elements of the run are fish which are maturing in their fourth or in their fifth years.
It was attempted during the season of 1911 to determine the relative proportions of these two
generations, their range in size, and their average weight. In order to simplify the problem
as much as possible we have omitted from our list the comparatively few individuals of sea
type. In 500 fish of stream type, taken at random, from the cannery-floor, 271 were four-year
and 229 five-year fish. Of the 271 four-year fish, 126 were males, 145 females; of the 229
five-year fish, 129 were males, 100 females. The total number of males (255) was but slightly
in excess of the total number of females (245). Among four-year fish the females were
decidedly in excess, among 5-year fish the males.
As regards weight, 113 four-year fish taken without selection aggregated 709.25 lb., with
an average of 6.27 ; 104 five-year fish weighed 776.25 lb., with an average of 7.46. Extremes
of weight among four-year fish were 4.75 and 8, among five-year fish 5.75 and 8.75.
The following table gives distribution in accordance with their length of the 500 individuals
of the stream type in which age was determined, the four-year males being compared with the
five-year males, and the four-year females with the five-year females.* At the time the
measurements were taken the jaws in the males were seldom strongly hooked, but a preorbital
elongation was apparent which accounts in part but not wholly for the greater length of males
* Measurements were made August 2nd to 4th, 1911, in the cannery of the Pacific American Fisheries
at Bellingham, Wash. To the management of this concern we desire to express our grateful appreciation of
their uniform courtesy. I 62
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
than of females. The fish were measured over the curve of the body from the end of the
rostrum to the tips of the middle rays of the caudal fin. It will be noted that the range
in size of the four- and five-year fish overlap widely, but the curves are characteristically
distinct, the five-year fish averaging at least 2 inches longer, out of a total range of 5 inches in
length for each group. Examination of a larger series of individuals would unquestionably
extend the limits of each group by the addition of the exceptionally large and the exceptionally
small, but the table as presented doubtless gives correctly the range in size of the vast majority
at the time the examination was made. It will be of great interest to compare similar curves
prepared for the same river-basin in successive years ; also curves of the sockeye run in different
Five Hundred Fraser River Sockeyes which had migrated to Sea as Yearlings, grouped by Sex,
Age, and Size.
Length in Inches.
Pour Years.
Five Years.
Four Years.
Five Years.
. 4
Three-year fish, or grilse, were not included in the above table. During the summer
of 1911 they were not numerous. Only a few (perhaps three or four on the average) could
usually be found in each 1,000 fish brought in. It is the current belief among those who
handle Fraser River sockeyes that all the grilse are male fish. As previously noted, all those
examined by us were males, with one exception, a female with well-developed ova. Examination of the scales (see PL 1, Fig. 2) shows that the final summer's growth is more extensive in
grilse than in those which mature at four and five years, and the narrowing of the marginal
rings to form the third winter band has often begun.
Much larger specimens than those included in the table were selected for examination
in an attempt to find individuals older than five years. Several were found over 30 inches
long, weighing 12 lb., but all were five-year fish. Examination of a larger number may
possibly bring to light a rare individual which has not matured until its sixth year. Even
this is doubtful, and we assuredly do not anticipate finding older than six-year individuals
among the Fraser River sockeyes. The significance of the marking experiments of the
Bureau of Fisheries in the Naha River, with the reported recovery of marked specimens up
to nine years old, remains to be determined.
If it be true, as indicated in our table, that relatively so large a proportion of Fraser
River sockeyes mature in their fifth year, it may appropriately be asked how the enormously
increased run every fourth year can be maintained in that river without its benefits becoming
gradually distributed through five-year individuals over the intervening years. The great
run of 1909 must have developed  as  four-year fish from the superabundant eggs deposited 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 63
by the great run of 1905. But if an almost equal proportion of those eggs should fail to
mature until their fifth year, as was true in the 1911 run which we investigated, we should
have expected a second great run, characterized by their relatively large size, in 1910. Such
increased runs in the fifth years do not occur, and of this we have as yet no explanation to
offer. There is some evidence that the fifth years of the cycle are characterized by fish of
somewhat larger size than the other " off-years," indicating, if true, a larger proportion of
five-year fish, but the total run is not appreciably increased. Certain it is that the fish of
the big runs average smaller than those of the intermediate years. This might conceivably
be explained by a limited food-supply and sharper competiton among the enormous schools of
that year, but it is more probably due to the practical elimination of five-year fish. Those
five-year fish present would have developed in their due proportion from the few eggs of an
" off-year," and would be too scattered to produce any effect among the vast hordes of four-
year-olds.    But these are matters for further investigation.
King Salmon, or Chinook (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha).
(Figs. 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16 to 20, 29.)
Speculation concerning the age of the king salmon (also called spring salmon, tyee,
Chinook salmon, Sacramento salmon) has been encouraged by the enormous range in size
which is exhibited by spawning fish. Adult females have been reported as small as 5 lb.,
and adult sea-run males much smaller than this, while individuals of from 80 to 100 11).
weight occasionally are seen. No answer has heretofore been given to questions concerning
the total range in years represented by these various sizes, nor as to the exact relation of age
and size.
A detailed experiment to determine these points was undertaken by Supt. Hubbard, of
the Clackamas (Oreg.) Station, in 1896. Five thousand young, hatched from eggs of the
preceding fall (1895), were marked by removing the adipose fin, and were then liberated.
In 1898* Columbia River cannerymen reported the capture of some 375 of these marked fish,
indicating their return in their third year. Thirty-two are reported, with details of sex and
weight. Nineteen of these were females, ranging from 10 to 35 lb.; thirteen were males,
from 19 to 57 lb. in weight. The average for the thirty-two is 27.69 lb., about 5 lb. above the
average of all Columbia Kiver salmon of this species.
The following year! between forty and fifty were reported, the average weight said to be
nearly 10 lb. greater than of those taken in 1898. And in 1900, by offering a small reward
for marks saved and sent in, the Oregon Commissioner received seventy-two, with no indication of weight. No further record of the capture of marked fish is contained in the Oregon
reports. According to this experiment, it would appear that both males and females may
mature in their third year, and that very large fish (57 lb.) may appear among those returning
thus early. These results have been accepted by Rutter and others, the evidence appearing
on its face unimpeachable, but they are so wholly at variance with results obtained through a
study of the scales that we have scrutinized the records with some care. Certain minor
inaccuracies are obvious, but the dates are well attested, and the only criticism which seems
pertinent is that the Commissioner apparently relied wholly on reports from the canneries,
and did not personally inspect any of those specimens reported in 1898 and 1899.
Other marking experiments on the Columbia River, made by the Washington Commission
at Kalama and Chinook, indicate four and five years as the age of returning fish, none being
recorded in the third year. In the well-known planting experiments in Tomales Bay, CaL,
and in New Zealand, both of which resulted in establishing spawning runs in streams which
hitherto had not possessed them, no run was reported until the fourth year. In view of these
facts and others, we must hold in question the report of the Oregon experiment of a considerable return in the third year of both males and females of large size, in spite of a certain
appearance of conclusiveness in the report itself.
The early history of the king salmon is known principally from the work of Rutter and
Scofield on the Sacramento River, and of Chamberlain in Alaska. The fact is well attested
that large numbers of fry pass into salt-water in spring or early summer as soon as possible
after the absorption of the yolk. Many others, but in unknown proportion, remain behind
in the streams and migrate the following spring as yearlings.    Whether any of these, which
* Sixth Annual Report Fish and Game Protector of State of Oregon, 1898, p. 48.
t Annual Report Department of Fisheries, State of Oregon, for 1899 (1900), p. 15. I 64 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
have been somewhat unfortunately termed " summer residents," pass out during the late
summer or on the high water of the fall remains unknown, but many, if not all, of them
remain during the following winter. The centre of the king-salmon scale, which records
their early history, is subject to more variation than in the sockeye, and will require longer
investigation in connection with young salmon of known history.
In general, king-salmon scales exhibit the same two types characteristic of the sockeye—
a stream type, with close-ringed nuclear area, sharply set off from the enveloping wide-ringed
summer band (PL 5, Fig. 7), and a sea type, of large nuclear area, with less crowded rings,
which widen outwardly and usually pass gradually into the rings of the second summer
(PL 6, Fig. 11). The nuclear area of the close-ringed stream type agrees with the entire scale
of a yearling on its seaward migration in its second spring, and can be safely so interpreted.
The nuclear area of the sea type is here interpreted as in the sockeye, as indicative of an early
passing to salt-water on the part of those individuals which migrate as young fry. A more
extended inquiry into this matter must be made before offering data with full conclusiveness,
but it may be offered in evidence that young king salmon about 4 inches long taken in Puget
Sound in midsummer exhibited the wide-ringed sea type and were in their first year (PL 5,
Fig. 9). It may also be noted that on examining a series of larger king salmon (9| to 17^
inches long) taken in late summer in Puget Sound, all were found to be in their second year,
the smaller individuals (9J to 11J inches) exhibiting the stream type of nucleus (PL 5, Fig. 7),
and the larger members of the series (13J to 17J inches) the sea type (PL 6, Fig. 11).
Conspicuous in every spawning run of king salmon are the numerous undersized males,
known locally as grilse, jack salmon, or sachems. Two theories have been held regarding
these, according to which they have been considered either stunted individuals of equal age
with the larger salmon or as younger fish which have matured precociously. The theory of
precocious development has had wider currency of late, and is in entire agreement with the
evidence from the scales, according to which the individuals are always in their second or
third year. The mature second-year fish are smaller than those in their third year, and are
usually little in evidence, as they escape readily through the meshes of the nets. None which
were mature at this age have been taken by us in Puget Sound. But on the Columbia River
a considerable series of mature males in their second year, 9 to 18^ inches long, were secured
from the seines and fish-wheels. It will be noted that this range in size agrees with that
already given for immature second-year fish from Puget Sound. It is further significant
that in the Columbia River series also, the smaller individuals, 9 and 9\ inches long, are of
the stream type, and the larger, 13 to \8h inches, are of the sea type.
The larger grilse (19 to 26 inches) are in their third year (see PL 7, Fig. 13; PL 19, Fig. 29),
and among them, again, the smaller individuals of the series are preponderatingly fish of stream
type and the larger of sea type. But in the third-year fish there is more overlapping of the two
types, as though subsequent inequalities in growth had partially concealed the initial advantage
secured by those which had early sought the sea. This is a question which merits further
investigation on a much larger series than has thus far been examined.
From salt-water in Puget Sound we have secured immature third-year fish, both males
and females, and also matured third-year males, taken by purse-seines from the same school,,
and both feeding voraciously and equally on small sand-lance and young herring. There was
no difference in size between the mature and the immature individuals, nor could they be
externally distinguished, unless by a certain distension of the abdomen in mature specimens,
due to the developed testes. It became evident from our observations: (1) That a very
small proportion of the males of a given year develop precociously; (2) that precocity is-
apparently not caused by the influence of peculiar external conditions operating upon the
individuals thus affected, but by some unknown factor; (3) that precocious development does
not stunt the growth. No mature female king salmon less than four years old have thus far
been encountered.
The commercially valuable portion of the king-salmon run consists mainly of four- and
five-year fish, with less frequent six-year individuals. PL 10, Fig. 18, PL 11, Fig. 19, and PL
12, Fig. 20, represent these three ages. On the Columbia River they are roughly grouped
at the canneries as "half salmon" and "full salmon." The half salmon consist very largely
of four-year individuals and the full salmon those five and six years old, although there is a.
certain amount of overlapping, as in the sockeye. The four-year fish include more females
than males, and the six-year fish are males in even greater proportion. It is thus seen that
the females are much more uniform in the age at which they mature than are the males,. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 65
being practically limited to their fourth and fifth years, while males may develop precociously
at any age before the fourth year, or may be retarded beyond the usual period. A single
male, weighing 67 lb., observed by Mr. N. B. Scofield in the Sacramento River, was in its
seventh year. None larger than this have been examined, although such are known to occur,
so the total range of the species may even include eight years. Anything beyond seven is
problematical and beyond eight must be considered highly improbable.
Among the king salmon taken by purse-seines in Puget Sound and those taken trolling
in the salt-water of Monterey Bay, CaL, are found four-year-old male and female individuals
which are mature, and others of the same size and age which show no activity of the gonads
and would not mature until a later year. The same is true of the five-year-old fish, but the
undeveloped individuals of this age are more largely males. It seems evident that the
maturing individuals feed together in the same schools with those which are undeveloped, and
become segregated only when the period arrives for them to seek their spawning-stream.
Prof. McMurrich announces in the recent paper already referred to that scale and otolith
structure indicate mature king salmon to be always four years old and the grilse two years
old. Such a conclusion is on its face highly peculiar and improbable. That certain males
should mature in their second year as grilse and all others unanimously pass their third year
without precocious development would be highly remarkable. Fully as improbable would be
the corollary as regards size in relation to age. As is well known, the larger grilse equal or
very slightly exceed the smaller salmon of the regular four-year series. Prof. McMurrich's
contention is again based on his erroneous interpretation of the nuclear area of the scale,
taken in connection with the very limited amount of material which he examined. PL V".
of his paper indicates a typical five-year scale of the stream type, the nuclear portion which
he designates fresh-water being correctly so interpreted, but representing the first year and a
half of the life-cycle and not the first few months only. PL VI., Fig. 1, is also a five-year
fish of similar type. PL VII. represents, however, a four-year scale, the second summer
showing an "intercalated check" wholly similar to that characterizing the sockeye scale
represented on PL 2. But whereas the sockeye scale presents three winter bands outside the
"intercalated check," the king-salmon scale presents but two; hence the necessity for
the author's interpretation of the same structure in two opposite ways, in order that both
may appear four years old. As already indicated, the sockeye scale presents five years' growth
and the king salmon four.
We shall not here enter upon a detailed discussion of accessory bands formed by checks
in growth during the summer, especially during the first summer in the sea. Such have been
demonstrated by Johnston to occur in the Atlantic salmon, and are abundantly represented
in any series of Pacific salmon or steelhead scales. Their true nature can usually be recognized without difficulty—as in the specific cases mentioned—by the proportion of the bands
in which they occur, and often by a wide variation in their appearance in different scales
from the same fish. Occasionally, however, they so closely simulate genuine winter bands
as to occasion some difficulty and doubt, and may then constitute one of the more troublesome
features in the interpretation of large series of scales. But the proportion of doubtful cases
is very small, and such can be eliminated from the series without danger of affecting
disastrously the results.
McMurrich's PL VI., Fig. 2, represents a grilse in its third year. Here the nuclear area
of. the scale is abnormal and does not give satisfactorily the history of the first year. Other
scales from the same fish would have given this in all detail. But we have to do apparently
with a fish of stream type, which spent its third winter (marked second winter) in the sea,,
and was therefore toward the close of its third year. Its length (approximately 20 inches)
is that which we have found uniformly characteristic of third-year grilse of stream type.
Silver Salmon, or Cohoe (Oncorhynchus kisutch).
(Figs. 14, 15, 21.)
The cohoe agrees with the sockeye and king salmon in having a dual habit during its.
first year. Certain of the young migrate to sea as soon as free swimming; others, in
unknown proportion, remain in the stream until their second spring. Fingerlings are present
in all streams visited by this species throughout the summer, fall, and winter of the first
year. If a seaward migration occurs in the fall, it has so far not been demonstrated. In the-
latitude of San Francisco yearlings are very numerous in all the smaller streams as late as
March and April, and are often caught by trout fishermen during the early spring months.. They remain in evidence several weeks after the appearance of the fry of the year, and may
then be 3 to 4| inches long, being of the same size and general appearance as yearlings
artificially reared in aquaria. Rather suddenly, on some spring freshet, they disappear from
the stream. Some in their downward migration are often left stranded in overflow pools
along the lower course of the stream.
A scale taken from a migrating yearling (PL 8, Fig. 15) is entirely similar to those of
the stream type in the case of the sockeye and king salmon. A few widely spaced rings in
the centre, representing the late spring or early summer growth of the fry, are followed by
closely crowded rings of fall and winter. The outermost of these are often very slender and
broken. The number of rings formed during the first year varies widely, perhaps from ten to
twenty-five, the larger number being found in general in individuals of larger growth. In
many migrating yearlings the more rapid growth of the new year is apparent around the
edge of the winter band (PL 8, Fig. 15), but the rings thus formed in the stream are not
nearly so wide as those formed during the same season after reaching the sea. There is thus,
surrounding the first year's growth, often an intermediate zone which, together with the
surrounding baud of very widely spaced rings, represents the second summer's growth. (PL
13, Fig. 21.) The outer rings of the intermediate zone may even be narrowed, as though a
check to growth was experienced at the migrating period. Such an intermediate zone is by
no means of universal occurrence.
The further fate of the stream-type yearlings is well shown in a series secured in Puget
Sound in the month of August, 1910 (PL 13, Fig. 21). These range in size from 6 to 14
inches, and wholly parallel the series of. yearling king salmon of stream type, 9J to 11|
inches, with which they were found associated. As they were taken with purse-seine in the
open Sound, the greater number of individuals were sexually undeveloped, but a few males
were developed precociously. The precocious males later join the spawning run and have
been found associated with it.
We are unable to give any satisfactory account of the fry which run to sea soon after
hatching. Chamberlain has reported these in Alaska waters as more numerous than those
which descend as yearlings. By analogy we should expect the same to be the case in Puget
Sound and California. But neither among the yearlings of Puget Sound nor the adults of
this and other regions do we find scales of the sea type in any considerable numbers.
Three alternatives seem to confront us. Either (1) the young do not proceed to sea
as fry in the southern part of the range of the species, or (2) the fry do not survive
in salt-water, or (3) unlike the sockeye and king salmon there is no difference in growth
during the first year between those which proceed to sea and those which remain in the streams.
As bearing on this last point, it must be stated that a very few individuals of undoubted sea
type have been examined. The matter is one in need of complete investigation. We are of
the opinion that the spawning run in Puget Sound and in California is composed of those
individuals which spent their first year in the streams, with exceptions so few as to possess no
practical significance.
The spawning run has been examined by us in numerous individuals covering the range
in size from 17 to 301 inches. All of these have been fish in their third year, the scale being
shown in PL 7, Fig. 14. The closely crowded nuclear area represents here as elsewhere the
first year and a half spent in fresh water. Outside this are seen the parts representative of
the life spent in the sea, consisting of the bands of the second summer, the third winter, and
the third summer. Larger specimens should be examined than any to which we have had
access in search of four-year-old individuals, but such may not be found.
Experimental evidence is thus far largely lacking in Pacific salmon to corroborate
inferences we draw from scale-structure. But in the cohoe we have one piece of evidence
conclusive as far as it goes. In the midwinter of 1910-11, with the assistance of Supt. Frank
A. Shebley and Mr. W. H. Rich, we marked a certain number of yearlings in Scott's Creek,
Santa Cruz County, CaL, by excising both ventral fins. In the spawning run of the winter of
1911-12 several of these returned to the same stream as mature male grilse, with scales clearly
in agreement with their known age, having formed a single summer band outside the close-
ringed nuclear area and a marginal narrowing for the fall growth. Full-grown fish differ from
these only in having completed the winter band and one additional summer band. A more
detailed account of this experiment will be given later.
Prof. McMurrich announces the cohoe adult to be two years old. He has here again
underestimated by one year the significance of the nuclear area. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 67
Dog-salmon (Oncorhynchus keta).
(Figs. 8, 22,24, 25, 26.)
Less is known of the life-history of the dog-salmon than of any of the species thus far
considered. Our knowledge of the young is entirely due to Chamberlain, who secured them
on their seaward migration as fry, some with remnants of the yolk still attached. They were
not associated with larger individuals which could be considered yearlings. As stated by
Chamberlain, " records of the occurrence of larger individuals in streams have not been
authenticated, and, so far as known, all leave the fresh water as soon as they are able to swim."
Records of yearling dog-salmon have been made by the writer and by others in the streams of
Washington, Oregon, and California, but all such have been founded on incorrect identification
of the cohoe yearlings.
At the time of the seaward migration of the fry no scales have been formed. It is
therefore obvious that even the inner rings of the nuclear area give the history of life in the
sea and not in the fresh water.
In late April, 1911, we found the fry of this species about 1J inches long, very numerous
about the wharves and shores at Seattle, vigorously feeding on ostracods to the exclusion of
other food. In midsummer, fingerlings are to be seen abundantly in the Puget Sound traps.
In common with the young of other species, they pass along the lead and into the heart of the
trap, where they remain until forced to pass through the coarse meshes of the webbing.
The fingerlings of the dog-salmon are then conspicuous among the others by their slender,
graceful form, the dark blue of the back and the conspicuous black margins of the tail. PL 5,
Fig. 8, represents the scale of such a specimen, 6 inches long, taken August 2nd, 1909, from
a trap in the Giiilf of Georgia. It will be noted that the rings are widely spaced, indicating
much more vigorous growth than is commonly shown by such young of other species as spend
their first summer in fresh water. The rings are slightly narrowed from the centre outward
to about the twelfth, the outer rings showing again a decided widening. The significance of
this midsummer check in growth during the first year is unknown. It is frequently wholly
absent, may be present as a bare trace, or may become so well marked as to simulate the
nuclear area of an individual of other species which spent its first year in the stream.
But little is known concerning the dog-salmon in their second year. Fine-meshed purse-
seines in Puget Sound, which take so many two-year-old cohoe and king salmon, are said now
and again to capture dog-salmon also, but none have been seen by us. A single mature male
in its second year, 21 inches long, was secured at Bellingham, August 3rd, 1910. As the
habit of the species is to mature about equally during the third and the fourth years, this young
male is properly to be designated a "grilse," precociously developed a year in advance. PL 14,
Fig. 22, presents the scale of this specimen. The run of dog-salmon has not been adequately
observed, as it occurs late in the fall, when most investigators have left the field. Examination
of a larger series may well show that precocious individuals (grilse) are as numerous in this
species as in the others thus far considered. Whether females as well as males mature in the
second year remains to be ascertained.
The series examined by the writer, exclusive of the fingerling and the grilse given above,
consists of fifty-eight mature individuals obtained at Bellingham, August 2nd and 3rd, 1910,
ranging in length from 23 to 35| inches. They are so distributed as completely to cover this
range in size. From the following table it will appear that the spawning fish are almost
equally in their third and in their fourth years ; or if there be any preference it is in favour of
the third year. The two years overlap from the 26th to the 30th inches, inclusive, a size which
seems to include the greater number of males in their third year and of females in their fourth.
But the limited number of examples investigated is inadequate to decide this point, A single
large male, 35J inches long, the largest specimen secured, was in its fifth year. I 68
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
Distribution of Males and Females, by Age and Size, in a Number of Dog-salmon, chosen
at random.
Length in Inches.
Third Year.
Fifth Year.
28 .
30 .
35 .       	
In the above table fractions of inches are included with the whole numbers. While the
number of individuals under consideration is too limited for safe generalization, it may yet be
noted that both third- and fourth-year females average distinctly smaller than the males of
their own age.
Ages and Lengths of a Number of Dog-salmon, taken at random without selection.
Length in Inches.
Length in Inches.
Length in Inches.
Length in Inches.
35£ 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 69
In PL 15, Fig. 24, PL 16, Fig. 25 and PL 17, Fig. 26, are presented scales respectively
of 3-, 4-, and 5-year fish. The scales of the dog-salmon are broader than in any other species, the
rings being approximately circular, or even broader than long. The nuclear area is always
large, as in the sea type generally, comprising roughly half the diameter of the scale in two-
year-olds. The central portion of the nuclear area is usually of the open wide-ringed type,
the outer portion dense (especially so laterally) and ending in a perfectly defined margin, with
abrupt transition to the summer growth which follows. Considerable variation is found in
the outer half of the nuclear area, but seldom any which could cause confusion. The size of
area is little variable. Only in cases where it presents a double outer band can any question
arise. A slight narrowing of rings in the middle of the nuclear area is not infrequently
present. Occasionally this is emphasized until the median and the marginal nuclear bands
are about equal in development. In such cases irregularities and fusions can usually be found,
and the size of the total nuclear area and the subsequent growths can be relied on to determine.
There is usually no narrowing just outside the nucleus to form a "core," but this may be
present in a faint form, or occasionally be more pronounced.
Subsequent years' growths are usually about equal, the well-formed winter bands about
equally spaced and very strongly marked. Occasional exceptions occur, in which the second
summer's growth has been unusually wide and the third summer's growth much less so, with
the result that the second and third winter bands are more closely apposed than usual. Such
cases must be distinguished from others in which a double second band occurs, or an " intercalated check," during the latter part of the summer. In instances of the latter class there
are usually irregularities in the development of the redundant band in different scales, also
fusions of the two bands here and there. There is also lack of any very sudden b^eak or
change in character of the rings outside a redundant band, and no unconformity in the rings,
characters which very generally accompany the new year's growth.
At August 1st, when our series of scales were taken, the rings of the outer summer zone
had in all cases begun to narrow into the winter band. The great thickness of the winter
bands in this species may be in part thus explained. They may represent more than half the
year's growth, beginning perhaps in July and continuing until the new year's growth commences
at some period in the spring. Material collected at Seattle the last of April, 1911, did not
include this species, but in the king salmon smaller individuals had then produced from two
to six broad rings of the new growth, and larger ones (from 18 inches up) contained usually no
new growth. If this holds also in the dog-salmon, the winter bands represent growth at ever-
decreasing rate from July to May of the following year, the few wide summer rings representing
sudden vigorous growth for but two or three months. This is of course insufficiently
Taking the great majority of specimens (in at least 90 per cent.), the scales are perfectly
typical and schematic, a glance with the aid of a simple lens being adequate to determine the
age. This regularity and simplicity is also evident in the humpback salmon, and is in both
species to be attributed to the fact that the young all have the same history, proceeding at
once to the sea, whereas in the other species, as has been shown, a dual habit is found.
Prof. McMurrich's contention that the dog-salmon is a four-year fish, with a nuclear area
representing life in fresh water, has already been sufficiently answered. PL VIII. of his article
has unfortunately the nuclear area so blurred in reproduction that its character cannot be
positively determined. If, however, this area was close-ringed " as in the sockeye and spring
salmon, a central nucleus surrounded by a zone of fresh-water lines," the scale could hardly
belong to the dog-salmon. Such a description could not apply to PL IX., which represents
obviously a three-year-old scale, with the medial portion of the first winter band very narrowly
divided, but the two portions wholly fused at the sides. The significance of the so-called
"spawning mark " we do not here discuss.
Humpback Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha).
(Figs. 17, 29.)    ■
Available data concerning the habits of young humpbacks are derived almost wholly from
Chamberlain's observations in Alaska. Like the dog-salmon, the humpback young seek the
sea as soon as they are able to swim. No yearlings have ever been reported from fresh water.
In accordance with this habit, the nuclear area is consistently of the sea type, as in the dog-
salmon, being large in size and consisting for the most part of rings widely spaced.    An inner I 70 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
nuclear core or region of narrowed rings is not infrequently present, and may here also simulate
a close-ringed small nucleus of stream type. But the examination of a large series, taken in
connection with the known history of the young, satisfies that such is never the correct
No young humpbacks in their first year have come under our observation. Those listed
by Chamberlain (op. cit., pp. 55 to 57) were taken during the summer months and ranged from
about 40 to 115 millimeters, the larger individuals being those of late summer. All were
undoubtedly in their first year, and would yield interesting results on examination of their scales.
The possibility that the humpback salmon reaches maturity in less time than other
species is considered by Chamberlain, who states: "The rapid growth of the young and the
biennial occurrence of the species in Puget Sound may be noted in behalf of this belief."
This suggestion that the species matures in its second year is wholly substantiated by the
evidence of the scales (PL 14, Fig. 23, and PL 18, Fig. 27). A wide-ringed nuclear area of
sea type, with its outer portion consisting of a definite winter band, is followed by the band
of widely spaced rings representing the second summer's growth. Numerous individuals
have been examined, representing all sizes readily secured in a spawning run, and all were
uniformly in their second year. Statistics containing sizes of males and females have not
been prepared.
Prof. McMurrich's inference from the humpback scales is correct, except perhaps that
portion which recognizes in the central area of the scale a record of life in fresh water.
Summary of Results.
The following conclusions can be drawn from data here presented :—
(1.) The sockeye spawns normally either in its fourth or fifth .year, the king salmon in
its fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh year, the females of both species being preponderatingly
four-year fish.
(2.) The young of both sockeye and king salmon may migrate seaward shortly after
hatching, or may reside in fresh water until their second spring. Those of the first type
grow more rapidly than the second, but are subject to greater dangers and develop proportionately fewer adults.
(3.) Cohoe salmon spawn normally only in their third year. The young migrate either
as fry or yearlings, but adults are developed almost exclusively from those which migrate as
(4.) Dog-salmon mature normally either in their third, fourth, or fifth years, the humpback always in their second year. The young of both species pass to sea as soon as they are
free swimming.
(5.) The term "grilse," as used for Pacific salmon, signifies conspicuously undersized fish
which sparingly accompany the spawning run. They are precociously developed in advance
of the normal spawning period of the species. So far as known, the grilse of the king salmon,
cohoe, and dog-salmon are exclusively males, of the sockeye, almost exclusively males, except
on the Columbia River, where both sexes are about equally represented. The larger grilse
meet or overlap in size the smaller of those individuals which mature one year later at the
normal period.
'  6.) Grilse of the sockeye are in their third year, of the king salmon in their second or
third year, of the cohoe and the dog-salmon in their second year.
(7.) The great differences in size among individuals of a species observed in the spawning
run are closely correlated with age, the younger fish averaging constantly smaller than those
one year older, though the curves of the two may overlap.
Stanford University, June 1st, 1912. SH
a 3  Fig.   3.-—Sockeye  scale.    From   male.   25  inches   Ions,   in   fourth   year.
Bellingham,   Wash.,  July  81st,   1911.  tn £!
o, £
& 03
01   U
a ,„-
6 2
fe Z  Plate  IV.
Fig- 6.—Sockeye scale.    From  male,  27 inches  long,  in  fifth  year.    P>elling
ham,  Wash.,  July 27th,  1911.  Plate V.
Pig. 7.—King-salmon scale. From immature male, 9
inches long, in second vear. Everett, Wash.,
August 6th,  1910.
Fig. 8.—Dog-salmon scale. From immature specimen.
6 inches long, in first year. Bellingham,
Wash.,  August  2nd,   1909.
Fig. 9.—King-salmon scale.     From flngerling. 3i inches
long, in first year.    Friday Harbor, Wash., July, 1909.
Fig.  10.—Sockeye    scale.    From    yearling,    3}    inches
long.    Fraser River,  April 26th,  1903.  3 os
^  oi
fl   83  0>  rs
«3   3  gO
C ^
o ®
tu  '
f if I
I s a  Plate  IX.
Fig. 17.—King-salmon scale.    Centre of scale shown in Fig.  16, highly magnified.  PLATE    X.
Fig.  18.—King-salmon scale.    From mature female, 3.")  inches  long,  in   fourth  year.    Bellingham,   Wash.,
August 5th,  1010.  Plate XI.
Fig   19.—King-salmon scale.    From mature female, 39 inches long, In fifth
July   10th,   1910.
•ear.    The Dalles, Ore.,  Plate XII.
Fig. 20.—King-salmon scale.    From male, 48J inches  long,   in  sixth   year.    P.ellingham,   Wash.,  August
Srd, 1910.  TLATE    XIII.
Fig   21.—Cohoe scale.    From immature  female,  9f inches  long,  in  second  year.    FAerett,
Wash., August 16th, 1910.  a d
9 k
,3   'O
Fig.  24.— Dog-salmon scale.    From mature female, 25 inches long, in third year.    Bellingham, Wash.. August 3rd, 1910.  Plate XVI.
Fig   25.—Dog-salmon scale.    From mature male, 31J inches long, in fourth year.    Bellingham,
Wash., August 2nd, 1910.  >  Tlate XVIII.
Big.  27.—Humpback-salmon scale.     From mature female, 22 inches long, in second year.     Bellingham,  Wash., August 3rd,  1910.  a «
rt to
o ej
rH   g
oi tn
U r-!
7: fC
O   r-.
0.    r,
92    r,
r.    «*
S  3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 71
By Joseph Stafford, M.A., Ph.D., Lecturer in Zoology, McGill University.
(Reprinted by permission of the Commission of Conservation from Proceedings of its Committee
on Fisheries.)
Having been asked to speak on the oyster before the Commission of Conservation, I
considered it appropriate to select that portion of the subject which falls in line with the
work of the Commission. This appears all the more desirable, since, on the one hand, the
present-day knowledge of the oyster has grown too extensive to be encompassed in a short
address, and, on the other hand, because of the widely prevailing opinion that the oyster is
dying out.
Different problems have to be attacked in different ways : the methods for the conservation of the forests are not applicable to oysters; and yet there are certain aspects in which
they are similar. Mere retention of natural resources serves no very beneficial purpose; they
should he used to employ, sustain, and enrich the people. Preservation and use are to a
large extent opposed ; the intermediate course is to economize, to make go as far as practicable without waste, to turn to the most necessary and valuable uses, and at the same time
try to bring on a fresh supply.
Oysters are a food, not a fertilizer. They are not only a food, but a luxury; yet they
were once burned for the small amount of lime yielded, and there was a period of considerable
strife as to whether they should belong to the fishermen or the farmers. In the meantime
the extension of trade and the rise in price decided the controversy and created a demand
which excited search for new beds until all our oyster-areas had been explored.
The Process of Depletion.
Statistics taken from the reports of the Department of Marine and Fisheries show that
the production reached its maximum in 1882, from which date there has been a gradual
decline. Places that were at one time prolific now yield no oysters. In some districts the
season's catch is nearly all taken on the first day of open fishing. It is no uncommon
spectacle to see fleets of boats assembled over promising areas waiting the hour to start.
The opinion of fishermen, the comparison of the catches of different years, the examination
of particular localities, all point in one direction—that the fishery is failing and there is
danger of its complete extinction.
This is not surprising. It has been the history of other places and of other fisheries.
Under primitive conditions, before the intervention of man, nature settles into a sort of
equipoise whereby the losses due to the accidents of life are made good by reproduction. The
number of individuals remains about the same from year to year; but in order to maintain
this balance the female oyster is called upon to deposit something like 16,000,000 eggs every
year of her adult life, which goes to show the magnitude of the death-rate, and, at the same
time, the magnitude of the causes which operate to bring about such a death-rate.
There are limitations in the kind and the amount of accessible food-matter, in the ability
of the oyster to make use of it, in the climatic, physical, and biological conditions of the
environment. The heat of the sun, cold, frost, and ice, river-water, sides, currents, storms,
drift, sediment, weeds, parasites, carnivorous animals, disease, and old age have their effects in
reducing the numbers. Eggs may go unfertilized, larvpe may be thrown upon the beach or
drifted out to sea, spat and adults may be smothered in mud, eaten by crabs or fish, or injured
by competition. Against these and such-like forces that have been in operation for century
upon century, the oyster is fitted by nature to hold its own.
But where man interferes, with his reasoned methods of fishing and his selfish disregard
for the future of the fishery, he disturbs the balance which has obtained between the natural
and opposed powers of production and destruction, and in a comparatively few years reduces ■
the productivity of the natural beds to the verge of depletion.    The oyster, in its simple I 72 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
undesigned, mechanical mode of life, hampered by all its specializations and loss of sensory
and locomotory organs, cannot evade or defend itself against the persistence and the
contrivances of man. If the oyster could reason, it would regard man as its greatest enemy;
for he not only calculatingly takes every specimen that can be found, but in various ways
destroys others that he cannot see, and almost maliciously interferes with all stages of the
developing young. In the first place, he strikes at the very existence of the oyster in fishing
for and removing from the beds the full-grown breeding individuals and those next in size that
should take their places. In doing this he removes spat on the adults that are too small for
use and should be left in the water where they can grow up. At the same time the removal of
all these reduces the amount of natural cultch. The process of fishing cannot help but break
down the surfaces of the beds, burying living oysters under dead shells or tumbling them into
mud. In a similar manner the fishing for quahaugs interferes with oysters and spat, and stirs
up mud in the water which settles on to the surfaces of shells, rendering them unsuitable for
the attachment of larvse. In all this the fisherman's influence on the oyster is one of destruction, injury, hindrance, for which he makes no amends. To pursue these practices would mean
ultimate extinction.
In order to prevent such a calamity, the Legislature has imposed certain restrictions upon
the fisherman, limited the time, place, and manner of fishing, the size of the oyster to be taken,
the damage and obstruction to the beds. The effect has been to check the rate of decline by
reducing waste and injury and in a measure to prolong and preserve the fishery. This is
making the most of what nature has supplied us free and unassisted. Under this method the
fishery is declining, the oyster is dying out.
Methods of increasing Production.
From this brief review of the forces of destruction we must turn to the methods of
production and seek for a means to multiply the number of marketable oysters without having
to restrict the catch.
The sea is not illimitable and its products are not inexhaustible. Man cannot expect
continually to get something for nothing from it. Not satisfied with the natural productions
of the land, he has set himself to the destruction of the more useless and the increased cultivation of the most useful. He must do the same with regard to the sea. It may be a long
time before man gains anything like a satisfactory control over the most valuable migrating
fishes; but it is very different with the oyster, which has lost all power of locomotion except for
a brief larval period. It would seem almost to have been expressly designed to lead man from
the cultivation of the land to that of the sea. The only way in which materially and effectively
to increase the number of oysters is to expend labour in extending and improving the natural
conditions that are known to be necessary or favourable to its existence.
In order to expend labour intelligently and advantageously upon the oyster or upon its
environment, it is necessary to know its complete life-history and to know the natural conditions
favourable to each different stage—egg and embryo, larva?, spat, and adult. Until recently
there was at one place a great gap in the continuity of our knowledge ; but this, through
Canadian research, is now bridged over, and we are therefore in a position to judge better
than ever before of how, when, and where to best render assistance to the oyster.
The assistance, in its nature as well as in its manner of application, depends especially
upon a knowledge of the natural conditions of existence, the modes of propagation, and the
methods of culture.
The natural conditions of existence are either extrinsic, i.e., outside the oyster and reacting
upon it, or intrinsic, i.e., within the oyster and fitting it to withstand or make use of external
forces. Extrinsic conditions are either physical or biological—physical when they refer to the
habitat, biological when they refer to competition and food. Intrinsic conditions are either
anatomical and physiological or embryologicaland developmental—the first when they refer to
the structure and activity of the oyster, the latter when they refer to (1) the egg and pre-larval
stages, (2) the larval or free-swimming stages, (3) spat to adult stages.
The modes of propagation are either natural or artificial—natural when the eggs are
regularly spawned into the sea-water and develop in the usual way, subject to the exigencies
of life; artificial when the eggs are taken from an oyster and fertilized by sperm from another
oyster while the products are kept under the control of man.
The methods of culture of the oyster do not start with the simplest stage, the egg, as is
common in the culture of most living things.    In the cultivation of plants it is usual to begin 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 73
with the spore or the seed. In the raising of fish, birds, and many other animals it is the
rule to commence with the egg; but with the oyster it is the custom to start with the spat
that is already considerably advanced towards maturity. Oyster-culture, as generally carried
on, is about on a par with the transplanting of fruit-trees obtained from a nursery, and looking
after them until they are full grown. This is the reason why oyster-culture has been known
since early in the historic period, although the egg and first stages of development were not
discovered until comparatively recent times. It might easily happen that anchors, ropes,
stakes, or other objects left in the water of oyster regions could receive a deposit of spat, and,
acting upon the observation of such an occurrence, somebody began to put out things for the
purpose of catching spat. As experience accumulated, a nearer approach to the time of
spatting could be arrived at in the putting-out of cultch. In such a manner a practical
method could be developed without any knowledge of what was really taking place.
Methods of Oyster-culture.
The methods of oyster-culture as practised in different countries are essentially the same;
the differences arise principally in the material with which culturists have to work. The
Englishman may throw dead oyster-shells on the bottom for cultch; the Frenchman may use
tiles; the Italian may suspend twig-bearing ropes in the water; the Jap may employ stakes
of bamboo with their branches and leaves. They all accomplish the same object in the capture
of minute, young spat, that after a time become large enough to be observed and handled, and
can be separated and transplanted to where they have more room for growth. For the
culturist there is much to be learned from the extensive literature on this kind of oyster-culture
in Italy, France, Holland, England, the United States, and other countries.
Oyster-culture in the broadest and most complete sense first became possible when Brooks
(1879), of Baltimore, invented the method of propagation by artificial fertilization of the eggs
of the American oyster. The method was taken up and applied by Rice, Ryder, Winslow,
Nelson, and others, with a view to rearing the larva? obtained in this manner to adult marketable oysters. Ryder became especially enthusiastic and carried out extensive experiments,
and wrote numerous articles, of which one was entitled "The Oyster Problem Solved." Nelson
has been experimenting in New Jersey since 1888, and, according to his own statement, 1906.
" The ultimate aim of our experiments is to make it possible to raise oysters by artificial
fertilization in hatcheries, just as is now done with fish."
In 1904, while working at Malpeque, P.E.I., on the development of the oyster, I made
discoveries which throw new light on the possibilities and methods of oyster-culture. Previous
to that time the earliest stages of development were known only from the egg (measuring
about one five-hundredth of an inch in diameter) to the young larva of about twice that
size, and representing a period of growth of about six days. The next stage known was the
youngest spat, of five times the length of the previous stage, and about one month old,
reckoning from the time of fertilization. There was a period of about three weeks in the life
of the young oyster that was not known. During this time it swims about in the water,
creeps or rests on the bottom, feeds, grows, and develops its organs. The points of importance,
from the standpoint of oyster-culture, are to know when, where, and how to procure and
observe the larva? during this period ; because it is the period immediately previous to spatting,
and, if we can keep track of their progress, we can determine the best time to put out cultch.
The larva? may be procured by dragging a fine net, made of bolting-cloth, behind a boat
over oyster-beds. Water filters through the net, but many small particles are collected in it.
Examination of the contents with a microscope shows oyster larva? among many other things.
It is possible, by examining the collections every day or two, to follow up the growth of the
larva? to the time when most of them are large enough to settle on to shells, stones, or other
objects and become attached as spat.
It is well known that cultch to be successful in the catching of spat must be clean and
fresh. After it has been in the water a few days it becomes coated with slime and sediment
to such an extent that the larva? can find few or no spots upon which they are able to fix
themselves. It is on this account that old oyster-shells are taken out of the water and dried
and bleached in the sun to prepare them as good cultch. Observation of the success or failure
over a long period of time has narrowed down the date for putting out cultch to the latter part
of June or the first week of July. Sometimes oyster-culturists strike the right time, sometimes not.    If they do not, there is a great loss of labour as well as the failure to get "seed." I 74 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 191?
Winslow (1884) wrote : "Thousands of dollars would be annually saved by the Connecticut
oystermen if they could determine, with any approximate accuracy, the date when the attachment of the young oyster would occur. Hundreds of thousands would be saved if they had
any realiable method of determining the probabilities of the season."
Determining the Time of Spatting.
An expert instructed and qualified in the method can tell, almost to a day, when is the
proper time to plant shells. The three most important events in the life of the oyster, of
practical use to man, are : (1) Spawning or depositing of the eggs; (2) swarming or swimming
of the larva? ; (3) spatting or fixation of the full-sized larva? on to shells or other objects. From
the position of oysters below water, as well as from the small size of the eggs, larva?, and
young spat, these three events cannot be directly observed, but they can be determined by
carrying on a series of observations. The time of spawning may be arrived at by examining
the genital organs of adult oysters to see when the eggs are ripe. The time of swarming may
be found by examining the catch of the plankton net. The time of spatting may be determined
by examining natural or improvised cultch to observe if there are any young spat already
formed. The first plan is not very useful, because it comes too long before the best time for
putting out cultch. The last is not very practicable, because if spat are already formed it may
be too late to secure a good catch. The second is the only practicable and conclusive method,
because it is possible to take daily catches and to follow the growth of the larva? right up to
the time for spatting. This almost removes the process of catching spat from the region of
doubt, caprice, and chance to that of expectancy, regularity, and certainty. It makes oyster-
culture as sure as farming. It does not start at the same place as the artificial method that
has not proved successful, nor at the same place as the historic cultural method which has
been so long in use; but it takes account of both and begins between them just in time to
strengthen the one weak point in the latter. It takes advantage of the immense number of
larva? lavishly provided by nature to offset the exigencies and accidents of life and ensure a
reasonable chance of keeping up the stock. It places in their way clean prepared cultch best
fitted for their requirements.
As a general method, a may be proposed to observe the natural conditions of existence—
both extrinsic and intrinsic—of the oyster and of each different stage of its development.
Distinguish the useful from the detrimental in its environment. Endeavour to increase and
improve the former, decrease and remove the latter. Assistance may be given (1) to the
oyster or its developing stages ; (2) to its environment. The best outlook appears to be to
increase the set of spat. To this end prepare new beds and extend old ones, supply them with
spawners, and have ready an abundant supply of cultch. By the method described determine
the time of maximum spatting before planting the cultch. Leave undisturbed for a few weeks
to let the spat grow. When large enough, separate and transplant to where there is plenty
of room and an abundance of food. Remove sediment, weeds, enemies. To accomplish this,
oyster-fishermen must become oyster-farmers. They cannot expect to troop to the oyster-beds
and carry away a bounteous harvest without assisting in its production. Hitherto there has
been no inducement for fishermen to expend labour upon the beds because others would join
in the fishing and reap the benefit of their labour. What is required is to be able to obtain
a freehold tenure or a long lease to water-areas in a similar way to that by which land-areas
may be acquired, to have these areas surveyed and marked off, protected as private property,
and exempted from close season and other restrictions. Other areas not so held may be
regarded as public property and be subject to regulations as at present. With this encouragement many fishermen and farmers may be induced to take up oyster-culture as an industry,
and devote their labour and their earnings to the improvement of oyster-beds, the increase of
the production, the benefit of the trade, and the supply of a wholesome food. To facilitate
and encourage these undertakings require that adjustment between the Dominion and
Provincial Governments necessary to the granting of private rights and legal protection to
In addition, the Government could originate a campaign of education for fishermen,
farmers, culturists, overseers, traders, shippers, or others concerned, with regard to the importance of the new departure and the best methods to be used, as well as give a demonstration
on a large scale of how to conduct the operations and to prove their value. It might institute
an experimental oyster-farm to continue the investigation of oyster questions, to test the
application of suggestions, and to reduce cultural knowledge to a system. 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 75
In this connection, I may mention the transplantation by the Dominion Government in
1896 and in 1905 of small numbers of Prince Edward Island oysters on the Pacific Coast.
Last summer I had an opportunity of examining some of the survivors, and found them
growing and breeding, which proves their adaptability, and the advisability of making extensive
transplantations to various parts of the coasts of our Maritime Provinces.
Illustration of the Development of the Oyster by Selection of a
Few Characteristic Stages.
Figs. 1 to 5.—Eggs and Segmentation (Embryonic or Pre-larval) Stages.
Fig. 1.—The egg as spawned into the sea. It is spherical or nearly so, and measures
.05 mm. (jx>g inch) in diameter. It is bounded by a membrane and contains protoplasm and
a nucleus.
Fig. 2.—The egg is preparing for division and has extruded the first polar body.
Fig. 3.—Beginning of the process of cell-division. The upper half divides into cells
(blastoreres) first.
Fig. 4.—A later stage showing a number of cells already formed.
Fig. 5.—The increasing number of upper cells (ectoblast) almost surrounds the lower
remnant of the egg (endoblast). As the cells become numerous they are reduced so much in
size as to be difficult to see, and they arrange themselves to form the organs of the embryo.
Figs. 6 to 12.—Larval and Swimming Stages.
Fig. 6.—First free-swimming stage of the larva. Two superficial organs are visible—the
ectoderm, forming a sort of surface skin, and the prototroch (pt) or swimming organ, bearing
cilia in rapid vibratory movement. The swimming is a to-and-fro circling, or spiral movement
continuing for short intervals. There are internal organs such as an intestine; but up to
this period the little animal has taken no food, all its matter having originated in the egg.
Afterwards it begins to swallow food and to grow. Under normal conditions of temperature,
salinity, etc., such as occur about July 1st, this stage is arrived at in about five hours from
the time of spawning.
Fig. 7.—The first appearance of the larval shell (Is).
Fig. 8.—The shell grown large enough to enclose the body of the larva. It is composed
of right and left valves connected together along the dorsal surface by a straight hinge (h).
The prototroch is converted into a more capable swimming organ, the velum (v). The mouth
is situated at M. Stages like this may be raised artificially from fertilized eggs, but can rarely
be carried further. The natural history of the succeeding stages (8 to 12) are the author's
most important contribution to the embryology of the oyster. They can be produced by
dragging a plankton net through the water above oyster-beds in July and August.
Fig. 9.—The shell becomes relatively broader from side to side, its older parts being raised
dorsally and laterally to form the umbos.
Fig. 10.—The left umbo (lu) becomes much more prominent than the right umbo (ru),
producing an asymmetry of the larva.    Between them lies the hinge-line.
Fig. 11.—The tip of the foot (f), a creeping organ not hitherto known, protruding between
the two valves of the shell.
Fig. 12. — A full-grown larva with swimming organ (velum) and creeping organ (foot)
partly protruding. A heel-like process of the latter bears the opening of the byssus gland
which secretes the cement that fixes the larva to a roek or shell.
Figs. 1 to 12 are drawn to the same scale.    Magnification 150 diameters.
Pig. 13.—Spat, Post-larval, or Fixed Stages.
There are six stages represented, drawn superposed, so as to indicate the mode of growth
of the shell. The smallest (darkest) is the same as Fig. 12 reduced to one-third its dimensions
(i.e., magnified fifty diameters). It is the youngest stage of the spat (just attached) and is
about .37 mm. (or -^ inch) in length. Under normal conditions this youngest spat will be
about one month old (from time of spawning) and should make its appearance about the
second week of August.
The next stage shows a growth of new spat-shell (ss) around the lower margins of the
larval shell (Is), and similarly with the following stages.    The new matter added is secreted I 76 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
from the glands in the thickened border of the mantle, and that of the lower or left valve
increases the surface and security of the attachment.
The figures .37, .50, .75, 1.00, 1.50, 2.00 show increasing sizes of spats or stages in the
growth of a single spat up to 2 mm. (or ~ inch) in length. By the time the spat is as large
as a thumb-nail the larval shell at the tip of its umbo is relatively insignificant. As growth
proceeds there is the greatest addition below and behind, so that the umbos are carried farther
forward. Spat of 1 inch length begin to be sexually mature, the males producing sperm.
This is perhaps about the size at which the fisherman would recognize them as oyster-spat and
collect and transplant them. This would be in the second summer of their life, and they
should not be marketed as food before they are four or five years old.
(For a more extensive account, see papers in the American Naturalist for January, 1905 ;
January, 1909; June, 1910; and January, 1912.    An enlarged complete work is in preparation.)
Discussion :   Conservation of the Oyster.
Dr. Jones :   Would you tell us just what spat is 1
Dr. Stafford : The first stage in the development of the oyster is the egg. The egg
measures about one five-hundredths of an inch in diameter. What we may call the second
stage is where the egg is divided up into a number of parts or cells. They multiply from the
single egg-cell with a single boundary. This does not take place all at once; first, there is a
division into three parts, then a division of these again, and that process continues until there
is a great number. Another stage occurs somewhat like this : When the cell-division has
taken place and the whole mass is divided into a number of little cells, these cells begin to
arrange themselves to make up the organs of the animal, and this will lead to the first free-
swimming stage. This (indicating) is the mouth, this the stomach, this the intestine, and this
the swimming organ. As soon as the organism commences to swim, we call it a larva. It
begins to form a shell, and the shell becomes bigger and bigger until it is large enough to
enclose the whole animal. Then the animal undergoes a change in shape and comes to be
something like this (indicating); instead of having a little straight hinge to its shell, it has
what is called an umbo. The swimming organ, the velum, is still present, and at this stage
the larva has a foot. When the larva reaches it oldest stage, it comes to swim around in tbe
water, sinks to the bottom, and fastens itself to the first solid thing to which it can get
attached. Then it begins to build a new shell, and this is the first beginning of the adult
oyster-shell. In that stage it is called a spat. It is a larva up to the point which I have
described, and after that it is a spat.    We call them spat as long as they are very small oysters.
Dr. Jones : It is necessary that they should find something solid to attach themselves to
at that stage 1
Dr. Stafford : That is the all-important thing.
Mr. Cowie : There is quite an important difference between the terms " egg " and " spat "1
Dr. Stafford : Yes. In the older literature on the subject you will find the word " egg "
used to designate any stage. In most of the literature of the present time written by good
zoologists, you will find the term "egg" and "embryo" applied to very different things. It
is well to have definite terms to describe separate and distinct stages.
Dr. Jones : About what time would it take to evolve from one stage to another?
Dr. Stafford : It takes five hours in an ordinary warm temperature to go from this stage
to this (indicating on the sketch).
Dr. Jones : That is from the egg to the larva 1
Dr. Stafford : Yes. The larva begins to swim in about five hours if development is taking
place in July.
Mr. Cowie : How long does it take what was originally the egg to fasten itself at the
bottom ?
Dr. Stafford : From three weeks to a month, depending on the temperature. May I be
permitted to say that that is my own discovery ? It has been usually held in England, France,
Germany, Holland, the United States, and wherever the oyster has been studied that the
oyster settles down within a few hours after it reaches the free-swimming stage. Professor
Brooks, of Johns Hopkins University, who first discovered that our American oysters are of
two kinds, males and females, traced them to this stage; but he did not trace their development afterwards, and it was generally believed that they settled down and became spat within
a few hours or within a couple of days at most. This is not correct. You could not imagine
an animal of that size (indicating) becoming an animal of this size (indicating) within a few 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 77
hours. From that size to this size (indicating) they increase in volume 125 times. Growth
cannot take place rapidly. The animal grows by eating, and by developing its organs, and it
has to take its time the same as the rest of us' We all begin at very small beginnings and it
takes a long time before we come to the position of manhood.
Mr. Patton : Is this method of determining the exact time when the larva will deposit
itself as spat feasible for the ordinary oyster-fisherman, or does it need a trained biologist to
apply it ?
Dr. Stafford : The trained biologist could give the fisherman of ordinary intelligence
information and show him, so that he could apply it practically, but the fishermen with their
present knowledge could not do it.
Mr. White : How are the oysters on the West Coast doing?
Atlantic Oysters in   the Pacific.
Dr, Stafford : When transplanted the Prince Edward Island oysters were put out at
various places in the Gulf of Georgia. Some of the places were selected by Captain Kemp, the
Oyster Expert of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The oysters had to be kept for
several days on wharves about Prince Edward Island before they could all be got together and
shipped. As a result of that, they were so long out of the water that it became necessary to
put them into the water on the Pacific Coast as soon as possible. Consequently, Captain
Kemp had not time to go around many of the localities at which people in British Columbia
wanted oysters planted, and they wanted them planted at a large number of places. He
selected a few places, and three of these places I was able to reach last summer from the place
where I was working. Although there had been no information given to the Department as
to just where these oysters were planted, I was able to hunt them up, and I found that some
of them were living. Some of them had been placed a little too high above low-water mark
and they were exposed to weather, sun, and frost at low tides. This had carried off a great
number. At one place I found only one living specimen that had survived of the two barrels
that had been planted there. Nobody around there knew exactly where they were planted,
and so I was hampered in getting information. I had to spend several days before I could
find some of them. Nobody there, not even the fishery officers, knew that these oysters were
breeding. One or two men knew that there were some specimens still living, but they did not
know that they were propagating ; in fact, everybody declared that they would never breed in
Pacific waters. This was the most important thing I was able to discover with regard to
them—the proof that they are breeding. Finding that the eggs were ripe, I not only got
specimens before they had deposited their eggs, but I found specimens in the water that
had developed a little from the youngest larva stage. Not only were they capable of developing
their eggs and spawning, but the spawn was developing into free-swimming larva?, and I
presume they were capable of developing further. When I left the Coast they were only in
this stage, but from what I saw I am pretty sure that they can go through the whole process.
Mr. Cowie:  Did you see any that had readied a state of maturity 1
Dr. Stafford : Yes. Some that had been transplanted. Some of them had the Prince
Edward Island red sandstone attached to them.
Mr. Cowie : Will those Eastern transplanted oysters grow in the Pacific to the same size
as they would if left in eastern waters 1
Dr. Stafford : I think so. Those that I examined were transplanted in 1905, and it was
last summer that I was there. I do not think they grow quite as fast as they do in their own
home. That is to be looked for, however. Oysters are rather tender in some respects, and if
you disturb them it takes them quite a while to get settled down again.
Mr. Cowie: You think they would grow to as large a size as the Eastern oyster 1
Dr. Stafford: Yes, I am sure they would. I found specimens 5 inches long. I was able
to judge from the marks on their shells how much they had grown, and I found they had
grown pretty nearly a half larger than their size when transplanted.
Mr. Cowie : Would there be a possibility of cross-breeding between the Atlantic and the
Pacific oysters 1
Dr. Stafford : No, and for this reason: The British Columbia oyster is a little thing,
growing to a length of about 2 inches at the most. Our oysters, the Curtain Island oysters at
any rate, which are in rather deep water in Malpeque Bay, will grow to 15 inches in length.
That is exceptional; but it is not exceptional to find oysters 7 and 8 inches in length well
developed.    Those that grow to a length of 15 inches are long ones that grow in muddy places I 78 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
where there is an effort on the part of the oyster to keep the open part of its shell above the
mud. The British Columbia oyster is like the English oyster : every individual is both male
and female ; it is an hermaphrodite, but it is not male and female at the same time. The
male genital organs develop early in the season, while the female genital organs do not develop
until later, and therefore the animal does not possess this double characteristic at the same
time. Our oysters in the East are either male or female and one cannot develop young
without the aid of the other. On that account our Atlantic and Pacific oysters can never
interbreed. The British Columbia oyster during development remains between the shells
of its mother before it is thrown out. Our oysters give off their eggs unfertilized, and
fertilization takes place in sea-water outside of the oyster. Our oyster develops in the sea
absolutely free from the mother, while the British Columbia oyster develops in the shell and
under the protection of its mother before it is thrown out. The Atlantic and Pacific oysters
are distinct species and they cannot interbreed. On the other hand, a great many people
think that our Atlantic oysters do not belong to one species. That was stated by Lamarck,
the great French zoologist, a long time ago, and a great many have followed his views.
However, modern investigators who have paid attention to the subject believe that there is
only one species extending from the Bay of Chaleurs to the Gulf of Mexico. The differences
are not differences of species, but of variety, due to differences between the places in which
the oysters are living. Take the variety tbat is the most distinct from the ordinary oyster—
the Caraquet. It is much larger than the Malpeque and has a curved, hard, stony shell. I
have taken Caraquet and Malpeque oysters, taken the eggs from the Malpeque, taken the
sperm from the Caraquet, mixed them up in sea-water in a tumbler, and in five hours I have
had millions of oyster larvae swimming around in the tumbler. If there is any proof whatever
of difference of species, it is the proof that two specimens cannot breed together. Here we
have our two most distinct varieties breeding together. That is sufficient proof to show that
they are only varieties and not species. I tried the same experiment with our transplanted
Prince Edward Island oyster and the little British Columbia oyster, and the experiment failed,
as one would expect it would.
Dr. Jones : I have been told that in British Columbia the transplanted Atlantic oysters
would develop into perfect specimens themselves, but they would not reproduce themselves.
Dr. Stafford : That is what everybody out there says. I told the captain of a fisheries-
protection boat there, for example, that it was possible for them to reproduce, and he was very
much surprised to learn it. He said that everybody believed that, while they could live, they
would not be able to reproduce themselves.
Dr. Jones: You were not able to find any beyond the first larval stage.
Dr. Stafford : No. I regard that as showing that the Prince Edward Island oyster will
not only live, but will reproduce, in British Columbia waters. I regard it as a very important
fact, because it not only shows that Atlantic oysters will breed in Pacific waters, but it shows
that if you transplant Atlantic oysters up and down the Atlantic Coast to places where oysters
do not at present exist, they will reproduce themselves.
Mr. Found : You mean United States oysters ?
Dr. Stafford : I would not transplant United States oysters.
Superiority of Canadian Oysters.
Mr. Found : What would be the effect if you did ?
Dr. Stafford : United States oysters will live in our waters provided they are not carried
to cold places; but our oysters are better than the United States oysters. The best oysters
in the United States are found around Cape Cod. The blue-points, that were famous at one
time, are overestimated. Cape Cod is the most northerly point in the United States where
United States oysters begin. Formerly they extended up the coast of Maine to New
Brunswick; but there are none living there now, excepting, possibly, a few specimens in one
or two places. I would not attempt to transplant United States oysters to Canadian
territory.    I think it is better to keep our Canadian oyster and encourage its development.
Still, I have no doubt that United States oysters would in time come to be developed, so
that they would have the same flavour as our Canadian oysters. My reason for saying that
Canadian oysters are of better flavour than United States oysters is not based altogether on
their reputation in the United States and Canada. Our Canadian oysters took first place at
the International Exposition at Paris some years ago. They had to be collected from various
places in the Maritime Provinces, and during that time they were standing in barrels on 3 Geo. 5 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. I 79
wharves, sometimes in th% hot sun. After having been subjected to that treatment they had
to be transported across the Atlantic and placed on wharves there until the exhibit could Vie
arranged, and yet, when placed in competition with European oj'sters that had been taken
from the water only the day before, they were awarded first place. So there must be something in their ability to withstand rough usage and change of climate. Oysters, as well as fish
that are taken out of cold waters, can stand transhipment and retain their flavour better than
those taken out of warm waters. That is the chief reason for my strong belief in our own
oyster in that respect.
Mr. Found : Could not oysters produced along the coast of the United States, where seed-
oysters two or three years old could be obtained, be readily used for building up private beds
and areas which had not produced any oysters ? If so, would not the effect of leaving these
oysters there a certain length of time be that they would tend to take to themselves the
characteristics of our own oysters, being of the same species and being subjected to the same
conditions ?
Dr. Stafford : I think that what you say is correct.
Mr. Found : I was extremely interested in what Dr. Stafford said in connection with the
breeding of our oysters on the Pacific Coast. This is the first time that the information has
come to me. It has been stated in departmental records that they did not breed there. Are
the beds where the spatting is taking place such as would enable the spat to set ?
Dr. Stafford : Yes.
Mr. Found : You did not find any small oysters, one or two years old, growing there ?
Dr. Stafford : I left on August Sth, which is too soon to find spat.
Mr. Found :  Do you consider that this was the first year that they had bred?
Dr. Stafford : I have no data upon that point; I do not know.
Mr. Found : I would not think it was the first.
Dr. Stafford : The beds where the Prince Edward Island oysters were transplanted are
situated where there are millions of British Columbia oysters. Up to the size of the British
Columbia oyster, it would be rather difficult to distinguish the two. They are too near alike to
be sure in making a statement like that. There might be young spat there, but I could not
distinguish it.
Dr. Jones : Is anything being done in Canada in the way of putting out cultch to which
the spat may attach themselves ?
Dr. Stafford : Very little. In Richmond Bay there is one man who has done a little
even since before Confederation. He sold out, the property has changed hands two or three
times, and there is some cultch-planting being done yet, but very little. There is a man named
Sharpe who bought the property belonging to the Richards family, and he is doing more of it.
The last time I was at Malpeque I interviewed him, and he showed me some specimens that
he had transplanted from the eastern coast of the United States—Connecticut, or some place
in that vicinity—to Malpeque. I could not distinguish the American oyster from the
Canadian oyster, but I would not say that I could do that in the case of very young spat
which had been transferred to Canadian territory.
Mr. Found : Dr. Stafford may or may not be unaware that the Department of Marine
and Fisheries two years ago cleared an area in Richmond Bay near Bird Island. Are you
aware of that?
Dr. Stafford : I have not heard particularly about it.
Mr. Found : Under the modus vivendi entered into with the different Provinces, we were
permitted to issue leases to those who were prepared to undertake culture and cultivation of
oysters on areas that were not then producing. For purposes of demonstration, an area was
selected in Richmond Bay near Bird Island which has never produced. It was cleaned and
planted with seed-oysters which were collected from the bars of Richmond Bay under conditions
with which you are no doubt familiar. Last year another bed was formed near the County
of Pictou, just off Caribou Island. This area is also one which has never produced oysters.
I has been stocked partially with oysters from Richmond Bay. At the time it was impossible
to get a sufficient number of seed-oysters to complete the stocking of it, and Dr. Stafford's
remarks impel rne to explain that we have this year taken from the United States about 200
barrels of seed-oysters which we have planted on the remaining portion of the area there, with
the view of determining just what will be the outcome from a commercial standpoint of
bringing seed-oysters, which can be cheaply procured to the south, to our waters, letting them I 80 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1913
grow there, and subsequently utilizing them as a source of supply flfc" our Canadian markets.
The whole object of these two experiments was to lead the way in the culture and cultivation
of oysters.
Dr. Jones: Dr. Stafford, in his address, has referred to the necessity for some demonstration of oyster-culture.    I understand that that is really being done?
Mr. Found : This is being done at the present time.
Dr. Stafford : That is one thing to be done, but there are a great many other things.
Mr. Found : It was a little experiment for the purpose of leading the way.
Dr. Jones : You think that more might be done by way of demonstration ?
Dr. Stafford : Yes.
Dr. Jones : That is one thing that we have not taken up, and if we could be of any
assistance to the Department in taking further steps along that line, I am sure that we would
be prepared to do anything we could.
Dr. Murray: I would like to ask Dr. Stafford whether the eultch becomes useless after
being in the water a certain time. I understand that it needs to be taken up, cleaned off,
and a fresh supply put down.
Dr. Stafford : It would be better. It does not become altogether useless, but it very
largely loses its efficiency.
Mr. Patton : I understood Dr. Stafford previously to refer to the need of a biologist to
demonstrate to the fishermen just how they may find out when the larva? are ready to attach
themselves to the cultch, as well as to demonstrate the feasibility of oyster-culture in a general
Dr. Stafford : Our oyster-fishermen could not make use of the method which I have
described. It is too technical for them at the present time ; but those who are going into the
breeding of oysters could be taught how to make use of it.
Mr. Found : You are publishing a paper in the Biological Report now being printed on
that very subject?
Dr. Stafford : No; but there is a paper on " The Recognition of Bivalve Larva? in
Plankton." I have at present on hand a large work on the oyster which is a reprint
describing in a more systematic way of the work that I have done upon this subject. It is
approaching completeness. I have over 500 pages, and I do not know how much further it
will extend. It will be illustrated to show the structure of the different stages in the development of the oyster, and it goes minutely into the different physical conditions, the temperature
of the water, and all such matters connected with the life of the oyster in all its stages from
the egg up to the adult.
Mr. White : While the experiments on the Pacific Coast have shown that the Atlantic
oyster can be transplanted, yet the results are not otherwise of value unless something more
is done?
Dr. Stafford : The results are of no value commercially or economically unless a large
quantity of Atlantic oysters are shipped and transplanted under the direction of one who
knows what kind of places to put them into. There is no use in shipping eastern oysters out
there and throwing them out on the mud where they will sink, or leaving them exposed to
picknickers, Indians, and others, or to the sun and the frost. 3 Geo. 5
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
I 81
Compiled from Figures furnished the Department ly the B.C. Salmon Canners' Association.
Districts and Canneries.
Fraser River District—
A.B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
J. H. Todd & Sons	
Canadian Canning Co., Ltd	
B.C. Canning Co., Ltd	
St. Mungo Canning Co., Ltd.. ..
The Glen Rose Canning Co., Ltd.
Skeena River District—
8,984  .
heads   207
A.B.C. Packing Co., Ltd
J. H. Todd & Sons    	
I     24,632
Skeena River ( om. Co., Ltd	
Rivers Inlet District—
A. B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
Kildala Packing Co., Ltd	
Naas River District—
B.C. Packers' Association	
A.B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
Kincoleth Packing Co., Ltd	
Outlying Districts—
A.B.C. Packing Co., Ltd 	
Kildala Packing Co., Ltd	
Clayoquot Sound Can. Co., Ltd..
Quathiaski Packing Co., Ltd....
Wallace Fisheries, Ltd	
E. Bella Bella Packing Co., Ltd.
996,576 I 82
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
Fraser River	
Skeena River —
Naas River	
Furnished the Department by Kelley-Clarke Co., Seattle.
(8 doz. to case.)
Total Cases.
The red-spring pack, amounting to 17,670 cases, we have included in sockeye figures.
Puget Sound Pinks
Printed by William H. Cullin, rrinter to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items