Posted by: Kiersten | January 31, 2011

Quickie Update

I think that all of our creative energy is going into the business right now.  So this post will be short n’ sweet.

We observed a fish offload last week – live quillback.  It was fun.  Quillback is one of the many fish sometimes sold as “red snapper”.  There is no real fish called the “red snapper” it’s just something restaurants use to sell fish no one outside of a fishing town has heard of.

I have pictures of the fish, I will get around to posting them.  I have video of the sea lions barking LOUDLY.  They’re our midnight choir.  I suspect a stellar sea lion has moved into the harbour to live with the california sea lions – I keep catching glimpses of a huge, buff-coloured animal among the slate-grey californias.

While we were at the fish offload, I caught another glimpse of the buff sea lion who surfaced right beside the dock and then dove again.  It was dark and she was fast, so I still can’t say for certain what species she is.  I wonder if she was hoping to steal some fish.  I sure wouldn’t argue with her.

Live fish offloading is done by hand (hand-bombing) where the live fish are caught in the on-board holding tank, counted, and transferred to a rubbermaid garbage bin, where they are carried by hand up to the waiting truck.  I’m not sure what happens in the truck, whether they’re flash frozen or put into more tanks to be transported.

Later last week we brought food to our friend who was supervising an offload of “fresh” fish at another plant.  Fish are called either “live” or “fresh” – never dead.  I thought that was skirting the issue a bit.  Kind of like local farmers sending their chickens our for “processing”.  Gotta love those sanitizing euphinisms.

Saw an amazing variety of species come off of the “fresh” load.  Sole, ling cod, yellow-eye and other types of rock fish.  A grotesque “blob fish” that looked like a burn victim.  I touched it a bit – it was covered in a quarter inch of gelatinous slime – reminded me of the ghost-buster’s ectoplasm.  One of the weirdest fish I’ve ever seen.  Kat didn’t want to touch it, no idea why.

30 different species on that trip.  The boat was a trawler, the kind of boat that drags the net across the ocean floor and catches everything.  Some fishermen know where to go during what time of day to minimize by-catch.  Others just get what they can get.

On live offloads, every individual fish is counted.  The bins are weighed.  On large “fresh” offloads, a huge vacuum hose on a crane is used to suck the fish out of the icy holds and into the giant sorter.  The sorter, which acts like a change sorter, diverts large and small fish on to different conveyor belts, which pours into huge plastic crates.

The crates are picked up by forklifts and set on the scale.  All species are weighed and documented by an official “observer” whose job is to make sure provincial and federal fishing regulations are being followed, and to generally get in the way and annoy the fishermen.

It feels like Spring in Ucluelet!  The rose bush is leafing out.  The juvenile eagles are back today, to visit their mum and dad.  They’re energetic and unpredictable compared to their parents who live next door to us year ’round.  Just this moment I set the computer down to watch two of them zero in on a seagull.  Incredibly, it out-maneuvered them.

On the radio this morning I heard that the early-bird whales are back.  A mama grey whale and her baby were seen swimming past Tofino, heading north.

I’m sure we’ll see some more hail before the garden starts to grow.  I’m curious to see which of the plants I put in the front garden last summer made it through the winter.

Went to the blow-hole yesterday, the place we saw the octopus last year.  No octopus this time, but it’s still just as beautiful.

Well, that’s the best I can do for an update right now.  Between all the above neat things, we’ve been working on the business.  Nothing to report there just yet.



  1. Envious in Ontario. Yesterday it was -27 Cel with a snowstorm on the way. It is to arrive in southern Ontario tomorrow bringing with it lots of snow, wind and cooolllddd!! There is no sign of spring here. Keep showing those spring photos because the verdict from our groundhog here will be — six more weeks of winter weather.

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