Last week we headed down to the fish hatchery. They had already let in some salmon so we watched them for awhile and then played.
Today there were lots and lots of salmon waiting to get into the ladder.
But before they could get in the others that were already in the holding tank had to get harvested! I had NO idea that they did this where everyone could see and actually encouraged you to watch and ask questions. Before we went over to the harvesting area, I talked to Mason about it to make sure he wanted to go watch. I told him that they would kill the fish and then get the eggs out. I let him know that there would be blood and that if he did not want to go that was OK.
The first thing we did was watch them move the fish towards the end of the tank that was closest to the harvesting area.
Once in place, they lower down the metal fence to "push" the fish to the other end.....
Then they start to move.....
Then all the fish are where they want them. The water level has also been dropped to about knee high.
At this point there are about 12 people in the water and they simply reach down and catch the fish. Now lots of the fish are HUGE so it takes two to three people to actually pick up the fish.....
Once they have a fish they put it up in the side where it gets hit in the head..... this is not as "messy" as you would think. There was not much blood at all if any. They were actually really fast with one maybe two blows to the fish's head. It was not as graphic as I thought it would be. Mason did not even seem to notice!
Once killed they then harvest the eggs or the sperm. They put them right into 5 gallon buckets that every so often they would take to their lab for processing. Once the fish had been harvested it was then slid through these green shoots to make sure it does not have a tag in it's nose. One shoot is for females the other males.
Even though these fish are not good to eat. (they are too old of fish) They are not wasted. They are kept on ice and will be ground up and used as fish food for the fish that they are raising in hatchery.
Even though we had planned on watching the fish ladder get opened and watch the salmon go up it....I would have to say it was really neat to see the whole rest of the process after the fish come into the ladder. We had to leave before they opened the ladder this afternoon so that Mason could make it to school on time, but I think all in all we all had a great day!
River even enjoyed his first ever Graham Cracker!