Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Feed the Fish

Monday we were able to feed the fish! We live at a fish hatchery and this week we were able to do some work directly related to the fish. Gnat Creek has nearly 900 thousand fingerling spring Chinook salmon in six tanks. Fingerlings are fish that are about 3 inches long.

When we first arrived, the fish were being fed 3 or 4 times a day. Each week they are weighed—a sampling of one small net full of fish is weighed—to compute how many fish there are per pound. From this, the amount of food they receive daily is computed.

Now they are being fed once a day, with the proper amount of food for each pond or tank being spread on the water surface. On Memorial Day we were able to feed the fish. What a joy to spread the fine grains of fish food on the water surface and watch many, many small silver fish jump and compete for the food! The ruffling of the water you see in this photo is caused by all the fish coming to the surface to eat. There are about 150,000 fish in each tank, so you really see them schooling and jumping for the food.

Next week, the fish will be marked. In Oregon, fishermen cannot keep a wild salmon, only hatchery raised salmon. How do they know the difference? Hatchery fish have the anipose fin removed. That is what workers will do next week to mark the fish here. This small fin on the fish back near the tail is not necessary for the fish's ability to navigate in the water and it doesn't hurt when it is cut.

Wednesday we put together four net pens that will be used to gather the fish together for marking. We had to assemble the nets and look for any holes or tears. I had a new appreciation for Jesus' early disciples. They were fisherman who often had to repair their nets.

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