Friday, March 1, 2013

Air-Spawning Steelhead: A Photographic Journey

For the past three years staff from Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries (NPT), Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), and the University of Idaho (UI) have come to the hatchery to collect female North Fork Cleawater steelhead for their kelt reconditioning program (see "What is a Kelt" March 8, 2012, for details). It’s rather hard to recondition a dead fish, so we use non-lethal spawning techniques to provide live female steelhead in good condition for this project.

Join me on this photographic journey of the air-spawning process.

I’m sure you have heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it also takes a village to spawn a fish!
Staff from USFWS, IDFG, NPT, CRIFC, UI, and FWS Volunteers work together to get the job done!

Females are anesthetized with AUQI-S, a synthetic form of clove oil that is much gentler on the fish than other anesthesia.


Next the female is scanned for a coded-wire tag….



…and then she is spawned. Air is delivered into her abdomen to help push out all of her eggs. Fish health also collects a sample of ovarian fluid to test for disease.

Length, weight, fat content, and a fin clip are collected from the fish….

…and then she is taken by truck to the kelt tanks.

Males are live spawned too. Milt is collected….

…and then length and genetic samples are gathered from the fish.

After all data is collected the fish is returned to the holding pond.

If you would like to see this for yourself we will be air spawning again next Tuesday, 3/5/13. We would love to see you!
 Photos, video, and text by:  Angela Feldmann

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