During my short visit to Juneau there were many highlights, the salmon run was a wonder of nature. By chance through Steve and Paula B from the 50 State Club I was able to meet Linda Macaulay who helped create the hatchery with her late husband and save salmon species in the wild. My money shot was the first shot capturing a jumping salmon at the hatchery. The below is the run at a natural creek.
Here is a window in the ladder at the hatchery.
Here is a video of the salmon coming in from thousands of miles out in the ocean to spawn at their birthplace . This is the hatchery set up. The ladders have underwater openings in varies sizes to sort the species. The water is churning with thousands of fish. This continues for 2 months.
In the wild the female is laying eggs and the male is giving them a spritz.
Here is how the hatchery keeps the population in good shape. Salmon come in from the ocean, go up the ladder. At the top of the ladder is End of Days which would happen in the wild when they spawn. Eggs go in the bucket, with a squirt from the males every 10th female. Fish get processed into food, fertilizer etc. No part of the fish is wasted.
Eggs hatch very quickly and get raised in tanks, fed for one year. Toddlers live in pens in the water outside the hatchery to acquire scent of that place, get naturally imprinted for that precise location and grow big enough to survive in the pens for a year. Survival/return rate is 97%. Without this routine survival rate is 3%. After a few years in the ocean they return to this precise location tospawn and die.
The revenue from sport licenses and the meat keeps the hatchery going and the salmon species intact. Numbers of predators-bears, eagles, whales, seals, fish lovers prosper. The nutrients brought into the forest are essential as fertilizer. The forest in Alaska is very lush.
How that little fish brain calculates the journey without a GPS is amazing. Alaska is a huge place. I will attempt in the next few blogs to communicate the scale of the land with some photos.
I have interspersed some stream shots from Fish Creek, Sheep Creek and some red Sockeye from Steep Creek next to the Mendenhall Glacier. Part of me really really wanted to see a bear feeding and part of me didn’t as a scaredy-cat. Just before I pulled up to Steep Creek at the glacier, a bear feeding her cubs had just departed. The stream was full of big red Sockeye. The ranger at the creek informed me about the bear’s departure and then proceeded to answer the same set of salmon and bear questions for most certainly the 1000th time. Is there enough patience in the world to do that job ? Maybe so if your view is a waterfall, glacier, mountains, snow, bear and salmon ! After taking a walk to the waterfall etc there were just 2 fish left in the creek. I think I missed the dinner bell again !
What I took away is the perseverance and determination of these creatures to get back to their source.
If this motivates you to go to Alaska, enjoy this extraordinary experience. Alaska defies words and pictures often fail
“I think we’re going to the moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It’s by the nature of his deep inner soul … we’re required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.”- Neil Armstrong
Thank you for following, More Alaska info to follow.
Make it a great day,