Salmon spawning under way at Feather River Hatchery
Posted: 10/07/2010 10:26:20 PM PDT
Hatchery manager Anna Kastner said they had already harvested 2.3 million spring run salmon eggs and 4.3 million fall run salmon eggs by the end of the day on Wednesday.
"I hope everyone else gets as many," Kastner said Thursday, as she stored eggs in trays to incubate. "Anyway, we're happy."
"This is a first salmon spawning operation with lots and lots of fish this year," Morse said. "It's been bad news for two years, and this year it's good news."
Thursday, busloads of schoolchildren came to the hatchery to learn how salmon are spawned.
Spring run chinook swim up the river in the spring. The fish hole up in the river and spawn from September to October, Morse said.
Salmon have been swimming up the fish
Then workers put the fish in a metal run where they are taken to a worker who checks them to see if they are ready.
Fish ready to spawn are placed in a device that instantly kills them.
Then the fish are thrown on a large tray where a worker slits the female fish open and removes the eggs by hand. The eggs are placed in a bucket. Then the worker squeezes milk from the male salmon onto the eggs.
Scale samples and genetic samples are taken from the fish to collect data about the sex and species of each fish. Wire codes. Fish heads are cut off with wire codes and stored in plastic bags to study factors about the fishes' migration.
The fertilized eggs are tested for disease and stored in trays in the incubation room.
In about 32 to 45 days, the eggs hatch. The fish are raised in long tanks behind the hatchery until they are four to six inches long. The goal is to have 10 million young salmon to stock in the river next spring.
Fish and Game will plant 2 million spring run and eight million fall-run salmon from April through June next year. The young fish will swim to the ocean until it's time for them to return to the Feather River to spawn.
If the salmon spawn naturally in the river, the females dig a hole and lay the eggs, then a male salmon fertilizes the eggs and the female covers them up.
Then both the male and female fish die, said Andrew Aughan, a Fish and Game information officer from Southern California, who was at the hatchery Thursday training.
Aughan said fish biologists study the salmon migration and spawning, but it's still a mystery.
"We don't really know why all this happens, and they go back to the same place on the river to spawn," Aughan said.
Fish and Game's goal is to ensure the species continues, Aughan said, but it's also to protect the economy.
Aughan said the commercial economy that revolves around the salmon is hundreds of millions of dollars for everything from fishing licenses, to fishing gear and boats.
Staff writer Mary Weston can be reached at 533-3135 or email@example.com.