Halloween Spawning At Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery
Twenty-five third and fourth graders and the crew at Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery got an early treat Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Coho spawning, always a celebratory occasion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery's crew, kick-started on Halloween. This year they had an audience.
Students in Celia Twing's Hood View Junior Academy in Boring, Oregon, recently finished an ecology unit in September, and for two hours they got a fish-eye view of how a nearby hatchery raises the very fish they had been studying.
Timing both the school trip with spawning was a bit of a trick: an unusually dry early fall meant the hatchery had to start spawning several weeks later than usual, after rains finally brought the fish. The coincidence with Halloween was a lucky break.
Academy students watched as hatchery workers from Eagle Creek, Carson, and Willard National Fish Hatcheries spawned 195 pairs of salmon that yielded nearly 550,000 eggs in one day. They saw biologists from the agency's Columbia River Fisheries Program Office collect scale samples and Coded Wire Tags to research fish age and origin, while Lower Columbia River Fish Health Center staff took heart and liver samples to check on fish health.
Turning annual spawning days into educational opportunities for the public, especially youth, makes sense to Caroline Peterschmidt, the interim Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery Manager. Just as the coho eggs will someday grow into fish that will support Columbia Basin tribal, commercial, and sport harvest and help rebuild depleted salmon runs, the students visiting the hatchery will one day become taxpayers, anglers, or simply citizens for whom healthy salmon runs are something they can connect with.