Fish Ageing Lab


PhotoThe study of temporal formation of hard tissues is called sclerochronology. The Fish Ageing Lab is a highly skilled internationally recognized research lab providing age analysis services to Fisheries and Oceans clients for the entire Pacific Region. It was formed in 1977 under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Richard Beamish and Ms. Doris Chilton. The team was recognized nationally in 2001 when they were presented with the Prix d’Excellence Award in Ottawa.

Determining the age of fish allows us to also determine size at age, age at first spawning, reproductive life span, maximum age, growth rates, mortality rates, and identify strong year classes.

Current Staff

  • Shayne MacLellan (Supervisor)
  • Darlene Gillespie (Sr. Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Karen Charles (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Sue Manhannah (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Diana Little (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Joanne Groot (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Judy McArthur (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Mary-Jane Hudson (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Barbara Campbell (Fish Ageing Technician)
  • Nora Crosby (Salmon Database Technician)

Shayne E. MacLellan

Shayne graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1977 earning her B.Sc., majoring in marine biology. She was hired to work in the Fish Ageing Lab in 1978 and became the supervisor in 1987. She has had 29 years of experience ageing a wide range of fin/shellfish species, both marine and freshwater, using a variety of methods. She has focused on promoting, developing and establishing standards in age determination activities to ensure best quality age data. She is a founding member (1982) of the Committee of Age Reader Experts (C.A.R.E), a North American west coast working group for the Canada-US Groundfish Committee whose mandate is to standardize and document age determination methods.

Shayne can be contacted by e-mail:
General Fish Ageing Lab phone number: 250-756-7179

Production Ageing

The Fish Ageing Lab maintains records of the species and number of individuals aged each year Since 1990, the lab has aged a total of 2,178,049 fin/shellfish, averaging 128,120 per year. This includes more than 20 species of groundfish, 5 species of salmon (representing hundreds of stocks), herring, shellfish and miscellaneous marine and freshwater species. The program has developed standards for their activities and follows strict policies and procedures to ensure highest quality age data.

This age information is then used by scientists in studies of population dynamics for shellfish, salmon, groundfish and pelagic stocks.

Selected Publications List

Chilton, D.E. and R.J. Beamish. 1982. Age determination methods for fishes studied by the groundfish program at the Pacific Biological Station. 1982. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 60: 102p.

Chilton, D.E. and H.T. Bilton. 1986. New method for ageing chinook salmon (Onchorhynchus tshawytscha) using dorsal fin rays, and evidence of its validity. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 43:1588-1594.

Chilton, D.E. and M. Stocker. 1987. A comparison of otolith and scale methods for aging Pacific herring. N. Am. J. Fish. Management. 7:202-206.

Fargo, J. and D.E. Chilton. 1987. Age validation for rock sole in Hecate Strait, British Columbia. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 116: 776-778.

MacLellan, S.E. and J. Fargo. 1995. Validation of age and growth for English sole (Parophrys vetulus) Hecate Strait, British Columbia, p341-360. In D.H. Secor, J.M. Dean, and S.E. Campana (eds.), Recent Developments in Fish Otolith Research. Univ. South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

MacLellan, S.E. and M.W. Saunders. 1995. A natural tag on the otoliths of Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) with implications for age validation and migration, p567-580. In D.H. Secor, J.M. Dean, and S.E. Campana (eds.), Recent Developments in Fish Otolith Research. Univ. South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

MacLellan, S.E. 1997. How to age rockfish (Sebastes) using S. alutus as an example – The otolith burnt section technique. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2146:39p.

MacLellan, S.E. 2004. Guide for sampling structures used in age determination of Pacific salmon. 28p.

Stransky, C. and S.E. MacLellan. 2005. Species separation and zoogeography of redfish and rockfish (genus Sebastes) by otolith shape analysis. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 62: 2265-2275.