Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tons of Salmon!!!

Its that time of year once again when the Chinook Salmon make their way to Strawberry Creek in Sturgeon Bay, WI to spawn. Each year in September and October, 2-4 year old Chinook Salmon make their way to the creek to the place they were hatched to release their eggs. The salmon only spawn once in their lifetime and then die. Once the Chinook reach their spawning grounds, fisheries staff capture the salmon and collect their eggs. Each year REGI makes the trip to Sturgeon Bay to collect the salmon once they die. Monday was the first day of the harvest so Katie Farvour, Alberta Halfmann, and two wonderful volunteers Rhonda Dodd and Gus Debels had the pleasure of loading almost 3 tons of salmon into 2 trucks to take back to REGI! We spent the morning watching fisheries staff catch the salmon into nets and empty them into a tub with CO2 gas. The gas was used to knock the fish out which were then measured and recorded. Once the fish were knocked out, the eggs easily poured out of them and were collected. We then loaded the 25-30 pound fish into the back of the trucks. Chinook salmon are native to the Pacific and do not easily reproduce here, therefore their eggs are raised in hatcheries. Young fish are released each spring into Strawberry Creek and travel to Lake Michigan. Fisheries have been stocking Chinook Salmon in Lake Michigan for the last 30 years. Although collecting the salmon was a lot of hard work, they will be a great source of food for the many bald eagles on site. Some of the smaller Chinook collected that day was donated to local food pantries and some of the salmon the fisheries collect is ground up and used as fertilizer. We all had a great time collecting the fish and we were happy to make it home with functional tires! When we got back to REGI we had the fun task of putting the salmon into plastic bags and finding room in our freezers for all of the fish. Thank you to Rhonda and Gus for getting messy and slimy with us!!

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