It may not be the way most salmon start their lives.
“I’m rinsing some frozen krill out that we’ve defrosted to add to the feed.” comments Amy Lee, an employee at the San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s salmon facility in Friant.
After being incubated and raised here at the facility this year’s salmon are on track to make it into the San Joaquin River and ideally beyond.
Gerald Hatler has been at the facility since it’s inception, he’s seen releases during years of drought, and is optimistic about the future of those salmon that are being released this Spring. “We released just under 90,000 fish this year and with this current flow conditions it’s highly likely that many of those fish will make it out to the ocean.”
The return of ample rain and snow this year, as well as the potential of more rain and mountain snow melt has area rivers flowing higher than they have in years, conditions these salmon should adjust well to.
“We released our second group of Spring run Chinook Salmon that were raised here at this facility on the San Joaquin River.”
Despite the increased water levels, the number of salmon that were actually released is down slightly as compared to last year says Hatler. “With the high amount of inflow we had there was a lot of turbidity, a certain number of fish were lost but not very many, it’s pretty typical for an operation like this.”
The number may not be as high, but with so much water in the river, the chance that these salmon have of making it to the ocean are far better than in any year in recent memory. “Even during the drought we continued to do fish releases, they’ve been picked up in the delta and even out in the ocean, so some of these fish have been getting out, it’s a very small number but we’re also releasing a very small number of fish.”