Thursday, April 11, 2013

Transporting Coho - The Journey from Quilcene NFH to Quilcene Bay Net Pen

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Pathways student technician Michael Farnum and I had the opportunity to participate in transferring young coho salmon to a net pen in Hood Canal last month. During this once-a-year event, approximately 200,000 coho smolts from Quilcene National Fish Hatchery (NFH) are moved to a net pen in Quilcene Bay. This partnership between USFWS, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, and the Skokomish Tribe is helping to rebuild Hood Canal’s salmon population for tribal and sport fisheries.

The transfer of coho from Quilcene NFH to the net pen is a multiple-step process. The first step happened at the hatchery, where the coho smolts are moved from the raceways into the WDFW fish transport truck using a pump and tubing. During this process, I helped crowd the fish to one end of each raceway; this makes the transfer to the fish transport truck a lot easier. Once loaded, the WDFW fish transport truck headed to the harbor to meet the boat. At the harbor, we transferred the coho from the truck into a 1,000-gallon tank on the boat. Once the fish and technicians were safely aboard the boat, we set out on the final leg of our journey to Quilcene Bay.

On the way to Quilcene Bay net pen
These coho salmon will spend the next couple of months in the net pen acclimating to saltwater and growing a lot. The net pens will also protect the fish from predators that are looking to dine on a tasty and naive young fish just entering the marine food web.

Transferring coho from the boat to the net pen
My experience participating in this event was a positive one. I was able to gain valuable experience and, as usual, working at Quilcene NFH was an interesting and educational experience.

--Tim Grun, Biological Science Technician


1 comment:

  1. This was a great day for me Tim. Thanks for letting me come along, and thanks to everyone at the Quilcene Fish Hatchery. I am very proud that I was able to help.