A Gift of Gull Eggs

The oceanography team returned from Rivers Inlet with a surprising present.

Basket of gull eggs gifted to Hakai Institute oceanographers while out in Rivers Inlet. Photo by Chris O’Sullivan

Afternoon summer sun glimmered off the waters of Rivers Inlet, a 45-kilometer fjord on the Central Coast of British Columbia. While out on their monthly rounds, Hakai’s oceanography team was leisurely approached by a nearby vessel. A familiar face smiled back, as the oceanographers lifted their gear out of the ocean. Ted Walkus, a hereditary chief from the Wuikinuxv Nation, offered an unexpected gift—a basket of gull eggs.

“When you go out gathering gull eggs, you first check if the elders need any. And if you have any extra you give those eggs away,” says Jennifer Walkus, the Hakai research liaison with the Wuikinuxv Nation and Ted’s first cousin.

Families are granted hereditary access to specific rocks where the gulls lay their eggs. Each spring, First Nations go out to these islands to collect eggs to bring back to the community.

“The [Wuikinuxv] culture is alive around here. It is quite an honor to be given a significant clutch of eggs by Ted,” says Eric Peterson, the executive director of the Hakai Institute.

When the oceanography team returned the following day to Hakai’s Calvert Island Ecological Observatory, they carefully blew the yolks and whites out to keep the shells intact before passing the delicious innards along to the chefs.

Gull eggs are locally renowned for making cakes extra airy, but the Hakai chefs decided upon a different preparation. The result was a tangerine-colored fluffy scramble that was shared with everyone at the observatory.

“I don’t even like [chicken] eggs,” says Bryn Fedje, a member of the oceanography crew who received the gift. “But these eggs were delicious!”