Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015-10 We Caught a Salmon Over 1000 miles from Its Home

Those Salmon Really Do Get Around!

Most know that Salmon are born and raised in a freshwater area, then eventually migrate out of the freshwater to live in the ocean for a couple years or so.  Then a large percentage return to their birth location to spawn and continue their species.  It is always amazing to learn that while in the ocean, the salmon roam 1000 or more miles, and when you land a fish, it could be from far, far away.  As it turns out, the Wild Blue crew did just that.

Along with other States and Provinces, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game examines landed salmon to determine, among other things, where they originate.  A fish missing the adipose fin, that is the top fin just before the tail, indicates that a pin-head size coded wire tag may be located in the snout of the fish. Each juvenile salmon is tagged when it is quite small at the hatchery were it was born.

As the Wild Blue pulled into Sitka on June 28, an AKF&G Biologist met us at the dock and asked to examine our fresh caught fish.  Of course we allowed the examination, and out of 7 or so fish in the box, one King salmon had a missing adipose fin.  The biologist asked to take the head, and when we said it might make for a less dense eyeball soup, she told us we could keep the eyes! She cut the head and took it, along with Alex's email address.

A couple weeks later, Alex received an email letter from the Alaska Fish and Game.  We learned that a 33-inch King we caught in Whale Bay Alaska originated from the Umatilla Hatchery, 260 miles and 3 dams up the Columbia River!  That's over 1000 miles from where we landed it!  It was born in summer of 2010 and released from the hatchery in March 2012, along with 47,325 others, by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Amazing!

After our encounter with the AKF&G Biologist on June 28th, we began to note missing adipose fins, retaining the heads of those fish.  We shrink wrap each hatchery fish head, note the pertinent catch info on the wrap, and freeze the head. Three heads were turned over the the biologist on arrival of July 2nd.

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