Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lake Sammamish Kokanee on the Move

Eyed eggs with ID tag
Over 150 miles . . .  That’s how far Lake Sammamish kokanee will travel before they ever hatch from their eggs.

Originally, eggs were collected from adults in small tributaries of Lake Sammamish to be incubated in a hatchery setting. To reduce risk, half of the eggs were transported to Quilcene National Fish Hatchery while the other half remained at Issaquah Creek State Fish Hatchery. Once the eggs at Quilcene NFH reached the eyed-up stage, they were safe to handle and final arrangements were made to transport them back to Issaquah. 

Eggs are wrapped in cheesecloth

Before the trip began, the eggs received thermal marks to help identify the hatched fish from different hatcheries and different tributaries. The eggs were then wrapped in wet cheesecloth to keep them moist and placed in racks in a cooler that had been designed specifically for the long trip.

Eggs in cooler baskets
Each batch of eggs was placed in a separate basket within the cooler. Ice was placed on a rack above the egg baskets and allowed to drip on them, ensuring that they would not dry out. As soon as all of the eggs were in the cooler, it was securely put into a vehicle and the eggs were on their way. After a bit of a drive and a short ferry ride, the eggs made it back to Issaquah. 

Ready to go!
Upon arrival, hatchery staff at Issaquah made sure that the eggs had made the journey unharmed. The eggs were unwrapped from the cheesecloth, quickly examined, and then dipped in disinfectant as a precautionary measure to ensure that they remain healthy. They will remain in the care of hatchery staff in Issaquah until they hatch and are returned to their parents' native stream. 

Here's a link to a recent article in the Issaquah Press describing the efforts being made to preserve this dwindling salmon species: 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coho Fry Released in the Big Quilcene River

It‘s that time of year again when young salmon begin to hatch out from their eggs. Around western Washington, coho salmon fry are beginning to emerge from the bottoms of rivers to search for food and shelter. 

Coho fry in the Big Quilcene River are no different; this year they just need a little help finding a home above the hatchery. For numerous reasons, no adult coho salmon were allowed to pass above the hatchery to spawn this year. This, however, did not stop staff at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery from ensuring that there would be plenty of juveniles to occupy the river upstream. With some hard work and a little extra care, the hatchery staff was able to rear and hatch several thousand fry. The goal was to plant these fry in sections of the river above the hatchery where adult fish were not able to spawn.

With the help of staff from our office, over 25,000 fry were released last week in several locations in the Big Quilcene River to find shelter and food. Small aquatic insects flourish in these sections of the river and are prime locations for providing the fry with plenty of food to grow. As these fish grow, the need for larger food will increase and they will move farther away from their release site. Eventually they will move out to Hood Canal and then out to the Pacific Ocean.

As adults, these fish will return to the Big Quilcene River where they, too, will have the opportunity to produce offspring that can enjoy the bounty of this magnificent river.