Take This Job and Love It: Salmon 

In this edition of Take This Job and Love It Chelsey Anderson went up the stream to Bingham.She visited Cooke Aquaculture to help a natural occurrence in life progress a little faster.Chelsey: “That’s right. Around this time of year salmon everywhere are making the big trek to their salmon spawning grounds. But with the large demand for salmon some companies are taking life’s natural process of reproduction and altering it to fulfil the need. So, I hopped into my rain gear and hip waders and got right to work.”—————Chelsey- “Oh gosh! I’ve go to get them out?” Greg- “Yep.”Greg- “So, just try and pick out a fish, you’ve got to lift it and we’ll grab it and put it in.”Clay looked like he was doing a fine job, but I was a little concerned with getting in.Chelsey- “Um. I do not want to fall in this tank. Because I’m not sure in these boots if I could get out.”I climbed in and netted the first female I saw. And she was a biggy.Greg- “Ha! Uh oh! Bring her right over. There you go. Lift her right up. There you go.”The salmon were being put into a drugged bath that relaxes them so we can get the eggs and milt easier.We snagged a couple more.Greg- “Okay. We’ll get you suited up and he’ll bring them around for us.” Chelsey- “Okay.” We grabbed our female, scanned the bellies so their barcode could be recorded, and sat down to begin removing the eggs.Chelsey- “Uh-ew-oop-yuck-oh! There’s stuff going everywhere!”Greg- “Each egg is about five cents.” Chelsey- “Oh no!”Hatchery Manager Brian Wheeler gave me some tips.Brian- “Hold it up like this so that it doesn’t pour all out. Take you towel and wipe all the water off.”Brian- “What you’re going to do is basically twist and drop it in the bucket.” Chelsey- “Okay. Ew. I just wiped my face with my hand.”Brian- “Now you’re going to take your hand and start at the top and work down to the tail. And push in the belly. There you go.”Brian showed me a technique to quicken the process. With this knowledge I was feeling pretty confident.Chelsey- “Are you racing me?” Jeff- “sure!”Chelsey- “Okay. We’re trying technique this time.” Crowd- “Look at that!” “Oh yeah! What are you doing Jeff?” Jeff- “I lost my job!” (laughter) Chelsey- “I think he’ll still beat me though.”And before I knew it, Jeff was done.Chelsey- “Are you serious!” (laughter) “I even got a head start!”But my guide and Production Manager Greg Lambert wasn’t going to let this loss get me down.Greg- “It’s not the speed, it’s quality.”We finished with the females, so Brian went to get the males.Greg- “It’s going to be the same procedure you just saw, but instead of a bucket you’ll be catching in a little styrofoam cup.”Chelsey- “So you realize I couldn’t even get it in that bucket and now you want me to get it in a little cup?” Greg- “We’ll see.”Chelsey- “I’m very nervous about this. This is a little one!” Brian- “Yep.” Chelsey- “He’s moving! He’s moving! Oh no! He’s not going to hit me is he?”Everyone reassured me I was fine, but I have my reservations, and rightfully so.Chelsey- “Now hopefully he’s out… Oh my! Look at him! He’s moving all over the place! AH!” Brian- “Hang on good.” Chelsey- “Okay.” Brian- “Now lay the towel there and drop this down there. Drop it lower. There you go. Now do it slow. Real slow.” Chelsey- “Okay.”{SWIM BLADDER NAT}Chelsey- “Does it usually make that sound?” Brian- “It’s the swim bladder letting air out.” Chelsey- “Okay. I didn’t know if I was breaking something.” (laughter) “I don’t even know if you can do that!” (laughter)I got all that milt out and went back to the bin for my next fish.Chelsey- “What! What in the world! You want me to carry this thing? It’s like an elephant! And he is awake. He is so awake.”But I was able to get all the milt out, without jumping too much.Now it was time to fertilize.In this process Brian will use two eye droppers to drop milt into each bucket containing about eight thousand eggs. Then I’ll help mix them.Greg- “There’s no set pattern to do.” Chelsey- “Okay.” Greg- “You just try and go around and around in a gentle motion trying to get the milt all over the place on the egg.”Greg- “We wait about five minutes for the magic to happen, then we rinse the eggs.”And that’s basically fertilization.The fertilized eggs will be moved into holding tanks where they’ll turn into alevins, breaking out of their eggs. Not long after that, they’ll be real fish.So after all the splashing, dropping eggs, and jumping from waken fish am I hired?Greg- “After careful consideration and consulting Brian here.” Brian- “Sure!” Greg- “I think we’ll give you the thumbs up.”Chelsey- “Thanks! Thanks guys!”—————-Chelsey: “A neat thing about the whole process: every tank is set up to spawn at different times during the month. This is controlled by lights. And about 9 million eggs will be fertilized in one year.Thank you everyone at Cooke Aquaculture for letting us visit your facility.You have great people to work with.”If you have an idea for our next Take This Job and Love It email me at [email protected]