It was a magical day for me, a dozen high school students, assorted conservation folks and two generous and wise land owners who offered their property as a new aquatic home for 6,000 coho salmon. I was impressed with the organization of the team from the Coho Salmon recovery program for the Russian River. I’ve tried to manage aquariums with a dozen fish. I don’t know how they keep thousands of fish healthy, but the coho fingerlings from the Don Clausen Warm Springs Hatchery looked great.
These fish hatched in January of this year, so they are 9 months old. I teased the team about giving up their babies so young, but they were universally proud to be finishing this first phase of the coho life cycle by introducing them to a stream where they can grow and thrive until they are ready to migrate to the ocean in the late spring. If they can avoid predators between now and then, they’ll return in two years and spawn a new crop of coho salmon.
The salmon were transferred from a big tank on the truck into backpacks. The team spread out along the creek and began putting them into the water a few net-scoops at a time. If they found a particularly nice and deep pool, they might put an entire backpack of several hundred fish into the choice location. Interestingly, within seconds of entering the water, the fish scattered to hiding places and disappeared from view. One of the goals of the program is to make sure the fish that are introduced into the water maintain enough native cunning to know how to hide and forage for food. Too long in the hatchery and they lose important survival skills. These coho seemed right at home in the wild, so the hatchery folks timed the introduction perfectly.
One of the things I love about real estate is that it gives me the chance to share some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world with great clients. Today’s chance to help my friends participate in a life-affirming Coho salmon introduction into their stream definitely qualifies as one of the high points of the job.