Kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon)
Kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon)
Greetings, FISH friends! Today we present our spring fish release numbers — plus important information on a chinook study being launched by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to try to better understand and combat fish predation on our outgoing salmon smolt. It’s a really important issue, and let’s hope this study brings the results we need. Read on…
PIT TAG STUDY:
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is running a study this spring, putting PIT tags into chinook smolt and releasing them over a range of time. The study will test the theory that if they are released early, when the lake water is cold, those warm-water fish that account for a great deal of the predation our smolt face have not fully woken up, and more of the smolts will make it across the lake. The PIT tags will be detected in several locations, including their passage through Chittenden Locks to Puget Sound, allowing the WDFW to better understand the predation issues with these young fish and to put into place better practices for the survival of our own salmon. A total of 5,000 tagged fish are planned to be released over the course of the spring releases. The study was made possible through a generous grant from the Candy & Don Havens Foundation
Working to better understand and protect salmon with fin clipping:
This year, the hatchery is hosting two marking trailers, one manual and one automated. The manual unit is processing approximately 35,000 salmon fingerlings per day, while the automated unit can process 140,000 per day!
About fin clipping… Clipping is a common practice conducted at most Washington salmon hatcheries to aid in fish identification. The adipose fin (between the dorsal and tail fins) is harmlessly removed. When the salmon return, they can be recognized as hatchery or wild origin, allowing us a better understanding of salmon populations over the years. It also helps us preserve wild salmon, as sport fishers are only allowed to take hatchery-origin fish.
In early February, following heavy rainfall, we experienced a record flow in Issaquah Creek of 2,400 cubic feet per second which resulted in:
Hatchery production remained safe but we came within 4 inches of floodwaters overtopping the raceways. Moreover, it was not good news for the naturally spawning coho, chinook, and, especially, native kokanee, who were most likely lost downstream.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of Washington Department of Fish and Game staff and FISH volunteers, however, the hatchery has recovered and our fish charges are safe. We are grateful to everyone who pitched in and are once again humbled by what nature can bring.
David Gowing is a web programmer and web designer who also has a background in environmental sciences, graduating from U.C., Berkeley with a degree in Natural Resources with an emphasis on water policy in the western United States. David shares a lifelong passion for salmon and stream restoration, and he volunteers with spawning at the Issaquah Fish Hatchery. David is pleased to join the Board and looks forward to further promoting the importance of salmon to our community in the Pacific Northwest.
The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery has participated in the Kokanee Work Group‘s extended rearing program over the last nine months. In October, 250 of the juvenile kokanee were flown to the Long Live the Kings‘ facility on Orcas Island. Learn more and see additional photos HERE.
The first salmon of the season made an early appearance on July 11! The female chinook successfully made it over the lowered weir after several attempts. The following week, FISH summer campers were lucky enough to see a male chinook make it upstream as well!
Fish at the Ballard Locks:
FISH Docents have begun their weekly visit to the Ballard Locks! Every Sunday in August, volunteers educate the public on the chinook salmon entering the fish ladder on their way back to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery!
Today the hatchery released 526,607 chinook smolts into Issaquah Creek. We bid you a safe journey, baby Kings! Can’t wait to see you again in 3 years!!!
In its natural state, water has an oxygen saturation level we call 100 percent, meaning the greatest amount of dissolved oxygen is available to fish to breath. However, outside forces can create a greater saturation of oxygen in the water than typically occurs. Because of the habitat and environment here at the hatchery, our oxygen level measurement recently registered 115 percent! The good news is that with that higher level, it allows for more fish in the raceways. Just wanted to share that with you today…
This exhibit is representative of a typical Northwest stream, much like Issaquah Creek. Visitors can view depictions of underwater life for salmon and vegetation and animals that occupy the salmon’s world. At all times of the year you can see developing salmon. From late September through March Chinook salmon can be observed as they develop from fertilized eggs to fingerlings. In late March they are released into Issaquah Creek to begin their journey to the ocean. From April through January you can also see developing Coho salmon.
The “Can You Beat the Odds” exhibit shows the tough odds salmon face from the moment they hatch to when they return to their home streams to spawn. Visitors can spin wheels and activate other mechanisms to see if they survive the gauntlet of predators and hazards that salmon face every day of their lives.
This exhibit was installed in 2000 and funded by a grant from Puget Sound Energy.
During this season, juvenile coho from the prior Fall’s spawn continue to be fed. These fish will be released next Spring. This is a good time to visit the hatchery’s native plant garden and wetland. In the Summer, the hatchery usually keeps the 2-year old rainbow trout on display in the glassed-in adult holding pond, located around the corner from the fish ladder.