Giving Fish a Chance

May 03, 2018
Do you know what it’s like to have 2,500 lives in your hands? It’s pretty daunting, but when releasing fish at Land Trust Preserves, it’s also a lot of fun.

By Jana Hemphill

Do you know what it’s like to have 2,500 lives in your hands? It’s pretty daunting, but when releasing fish at Land Trust Preserves, it’s also a lot of fun.

In March, the Land Trust helped release 70,000 tiny Chinook salmon fry (~1” fish) into Whychus Creek. Here’s a brief overview:

 

 

Let's look at this a little closer:

  1. Mesh bags with 2,500 fish each are delivered to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Chinook fry are divided into mesh bags of 2,500, then transported in a big water truck to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

 

  1. Bags are filled with extra oxygen for fish to breath while being transported. For the fish that are being released at Willow Springs Preserve, Aspen Hollow Preserve, Whychus Canyon Preserve, and other sites, more oxygen is needed to allow for the time it takes to drive to the release site.

 

  1. Fish are moved to these oxygenated bags of water and transported to release sites. If you’re driving your fish to a release site, they’re in oxygenated bags of water. If not, you receive a bucket of water with a mesh bag full of fish. Regardless, when you receive your bag (or bucket), it’s time to move. The clock is ticking on how much oxygen these fish have to survive. I highly recommend not doing what I did the first time I participated in a fish release—tripping on the way over to Whychus Creek and losing some of that precious water and oxygen (thank goodness the fish were still in their mesh bag inside the bucket!).

 

  1. Fish are released into the best habitat along Whychus Creek. Eddies, slow moving water, logs, and plants in the water help fish hide when they first enter Whychus Creek. Once you’ve found the ideal stop, you work to get the water temperature in your bag or bucket to match the water temperature of Whychus Creek, so the fish aren’t shocked. If you have a bucket, it’s time to take all the fish out of the mesh bag. Then you dip your bucket or bag into the water and slowly let the fry drift out.

Then, it’s time to leave your 2,500 children (all named by now, of course). Bid them goodbye and wish them good luck. The hope is the fish will imprint and bond with Whychus Creek before they head to the ocean and then one day return to spawn and rear.

 

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