Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery
Northeast Region
306 Hatchery Road
East Orland, ME
(207) 469-6701

Atlantic Salmon

A Year in the Life of Atlantic Salmon at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery

Fall Winter Spring Summer

Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery was established in 1889 to raise and stock juvenile Atlantic salmon for Maine waters. Craig Brook currently supports two Atlantic salmon programs.

As part of the restoration program for the Penobscot River, Craig Brook receives sea-run adult Atlantic salmon trapped from the Penobscot River for use as broodstock. These adults are spawned in the fall of every year and produce up to 3 million eggs. Approximately one million of these eggs are transferred to Green Lake National Fish Hatchery for Penobscot River smolt production. The rest of the eggs are raised at Craig Brook and released as fry.

Craig Brook supports the recovery of six Atlantic salmon populations within the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment that were listed in 2000 as an endangered species. Juvenile Atlantic salmon are captured from the Dennys, East Machias, Machias, Narraguagus, Pleasant and Sheepscot rivers annually and brought to Craig Brook for captive rearing. These juveniles are reared at Craig Brook to sexual maturity and spawned to produce fry that are stocked back into the same river the parents were captured in.

An important component of both programs at Craig Brook is the genetic screening of broodstock. All broodstock, both Penobscot sea-run adults and DPS juveniles, are genetically characterized through DNA analysis to ensure that no undesirable genes are inadvertently introduced into the broodstock population.

Broodstock in Pool

Adult broodstock are separated by gender in pools prior to spawning.

Male Atlantic salmon

Male Atlantic salmon develop a kype, or hooked jaw, during the spawning season.

King Anesth Broodstock

Broodstock are placed in a tub of water containing a fish anesthetic.

Male in Tub

This male has been placed in the anesthetic and is waiting to be spawned.

Scanning Female

All broodstock have small tags inserted under their skin. Before spawning the fish are scanned and the number is recorded.

Spawning Penobscot Girl

Compressed air is injected into the body cavity of females to facilitate the removal of the eggs.

Adding Sperm to Eggs

Milt, or sperm, is stripped from the males and added to the eggs.

Combining Eggs and Milt

As the milt is added, a paintbrush is used to combine the eggs and milt. This ensures that all the eggs are fertilized.

Eggs and Milt in Spawning Pan

Here, the eggs and milt are combined in a spawning pan.

Entering Spawning Data

All spawning data is entered via laptop computers into a database.

Straining Eggs

Once the eggs have been fertilized, they are rinsed with fresh water and strained.

Putting Eggs in Trays

The eggs from each female are placed into individual incubator trays.

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Last updated: March 30, 2010
Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery
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