Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday's Blast from the Past...

Once I finally got to leave Ft. Flagler State Park in Washington at the end of November, 2006, I headed south for my next assignment at the Bandon State Fish Hatchery in Bandon, Oregon.

The hatchery was located at the bottom of a hill. The building on the left is where the salmon eggs were processed. The fish pools all contained trout.

My duties at Bandon were varied. See all those nets?

All of them were ripped, so it was my job to repair all the rips and sew them back together. The hardest part of that job was having to stand to do the sewing in a cold workshop. I did position myself under the one heat blower. :)

These are all of the trays of Chinook Salmon eggs. They are being incubated until they hatch. I always thought of an incubator as a warm place, but not so with salmon eggs. They must be kept at the same temperature as the river outside.

Each of the trays contains hundreds of eggs, and river water is continually circulated through the trays. Notice the scattered lighter colored eggs in the tray.

One of the steps in the culturing of these eggs is to sort through them and remove any defective eggs. They are first placed in an automated sorter that kicks out the totally rotten lighter colored eggs.

The sorter doesn't catch all the bad eggs, so they all have to be gone through by a human sorter (me). How do you do that? Well, you take a scoop of maybe fifty at a time and carefully look at each one and pick out defective eggs with a tweezers! Besides looking for eggs with white spots, you also have to be sure each egg has two eyes. Some eggs only have one eye, or three, or four eyes. Those eggs would be deformed and not live anyway, so they must be removed.

After the eggs have been sorted through and counted (yes, counted!), they are returned to the tray and put back in the incubator. An interesting fact about these salmon eggs is learned if some of them accidentally fall off of the sorting screen. When they hit the floor, they bounce like one of those little super balls. I'm sure you can just picture me chasing those bouncing eggs around the room when a few would get away from me. :) In my month at Bandon, I sorted through and counted close to 1,000,000 eggs! I was seeing eggs in my sleep at night.

Quite a few storms rolled through that part of Oregon while I was there, and one particular storm resulted in the river, that the hatchery was located next to, rising enough for the Coho Salmon to make it through the fish ladder into the holding pen. Since Bandon doesn't process Coho eggs, the spawning salmon had to be sorted by sex into separate pens to be sent to other hatcheries.

The salmon are netted by hand and then males and females are separated to different pens. Thanks goodness, my part of this job was to keep track of the numbers. One of the staff did the actual netting. We sorted 65 Cohos that day.

On my days off, I was able to do a little touring of the area, but December in Oregon isn't the best time to be traveling around on a mo-ped. This is the light house at Bullard's Beach State Park. My time in Oregon convinced me that towing a car behind the motorhome was in my future.


Bandon State Fish Hatchery was one of the most interesting places that I have volunteered and I'm really glad I did it in December. That's when the salmon are spawning, so I was able to really get some hands on learning about fish culture.


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

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