Thursday, June 2, 2016

That is a Lot of Fish!!

We got to help out with our first fish stocking today. There will be about twenty-five of these over the summer, and though they aren't part of our official duties we like to help out where we can.
Concrete Raceway
The hatchery has a number of these concrete raceways where the fish are held as they grow. This one contains about 9000 Rainbow Trout that are 18-24 months old and weigh 1/3 pound.

This morning's order was for 5625 trout to be delivered to a nearby lake. That number seems weirdly specific, but Paige (the hatchery biologist) says that they are usually asked for some total number of fish to be split into several stockings, so they get odd numbers like this.
Transport Truck
The hatchery has a large truck with three insulated tanks, aerators, oxygen bottles, etc. to transport fish from the hatchery to the lake. Joe, the maintenance man here handles the driving chores, as the driver has to have a CDL. 
Crowding Fish
Step one is to place a movable screen into the raceway and crowd the fish down to one end. This is Paige, and that water is cold!!
Transferring Fish into the Truck
Once the fish are crowded to one end, it becomes a three-person job. The person in the raceway scoops up fish in a net, hands it to someone on the edge of the raceway, then up to Joe who dumps them into the truck.
Whole Lot of Trout
Into the Truck
So how do they count the 5625 fish?? They don't! They go by weight and water displacement. They know that 5625 of these fish should weigh about 1800 pounds. And they know how much the water will rise in the truck's tanks for that many fish. They have a water-level gauge on the side of each tank, and when the water rises to the correct level they are finished with that tank. Smart!!
Water Level Guage
If you look closely at the picture above (click on it to make it larger) you will see the water level about 5" below that red mark. They add fish until the water is up to the mark. Easy peasy...
Fish are Getting Heavy!!
As the tanks were filled the fish were crowded into smaller and smaller areas to make them easier to net. The entire loading process took only 40 minutes start to finish. Realize that Paige and the others handled 1800 pounds of fish in this time, and she was in 42 degree water and had forgotten her gloves. She was ready to get out!
Hitting the Road.
And we're off! Check back to see the rest of the operation.


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