Oolichan is a most treasured fish, and not well understood, valued and protected. This fish has given the name to the Grease Trails, from the Pacific Coast to the inland, and been an important part of the coast trade and livelyhood for centuries, so, where is it now.
These articles show also how the Oolichan have played part of west coast history.
Eulachon (commonly called smelt, candlefish, or hooligan) are a small, anadromous fish from the eastern Pacific Ocean. They are distinguished by the large canine teeth on the “vomer” and 18 to 23 rays in the anal fin. Like Pacific salmon they have an “adipose fin”; it is sickle-shaped. The paired fins are longer in males than in females. All fins have well-developed breeding tubercles (raised tissue “bumps”) in ripe males, but these are poorly developed or absent in females. Adult coloration is brown to blue on the back and top of the head, lighter to silvery white on the sides, and white on the ventral surface; speckling is fine, sparse, and restricted to the back. They feed on plankton but only while at sea.
Eulachon typically spend 3 to 5 years in saltwater before returning to freshwater to spawn from late winter through mid spring. During spawning, males have a distinctly raised ridge along the middle of their bodies. Eggs are fertilized in the water column. After fertilization, the eggs sink and adhere to the river bottom, typically in areas of gravel and coarse sand. Most eulachon adults die after spawning. Eulachon eggs hatch in 20 to 40 days. The larvae are then carried downstream and are dispersed by estuarine and ocean currents shortly after hatching. Juvenile eulachon move from shallow nearshore areas to mid-depth areas. Within the Columbia River Basin, the major and most consistent spawning runs occur in the mainstem of the Columbia River as far upstream as the Bonneville Dam, and in the Cowlitz River.
The common name “candlefish” derives from the fact that it is so fat during spawning, with up to 15% of total body weight in fat that, when caught, dried, and strung on a wick, it could be burned like a candle.
· The name “eulachon” is from the Chinookan language.
http://www.gingolx.ca/nisgaaculture/ancient_villages/way_of_life/grease.htm part of Nisga a s way of life