HomeOutdoorsViralWATCH: Amazing Video Shows 10 Million Salmon Fry Sliding Through Tube At Fish Hatchery

WATCH: Amazing Video Shows 10 Million Salmon Fry Sliding Through Tube At Fish Hatchery

by Brett Stayton
Salmon Fry In A Net
Photo by Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Fish hatcheries are one of the great marvels of modern science. While the conservation of wild fisheries should remain a priority well into the future, the work that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) conducts to supplement fish populations with hatchery-raised stocks is amazing. The National Fish Hatchery System includes more than 70 fish hatcheries across the country. As part of that system, each year the USFWS raises and stocks over 100 million fish to support the recovery and restoration of imperiled species, enhance recreational fishing opportunities, and strengthen tribal subsistence fisheries.

Now the logistics and technology needed to raise, transport, and release those fish is an engineering feat that deserves a deeper dive. A recent video shared on social media by the USFWS’s Pacific Region account shows one part of that incredible process. The video is from the Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in Underwood, Washington. According to the USFWS, this particular hatchery, which sits on the Columbia River, annually produces roughly 12.5 million Chinook salmon.

The video shows about 10 million Chinook salmon fry being ushered down a tube slide. The tiny fish were being transferred from their incubation tanks to outdoor ponds where they can further acclimate and prepare to be released into the wild. The caption explains that this step in the process takes place once the salmon fry are about 90 days old. At that point, they have lost their yolk sacs and are ready to keep progressing toward their release.

Chinook Salmon Are An Icon In The Pacific Northwest

The Chinook salmon is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic species. The species is anadromous. That means they hatch in freshwater like the Columbia River and then swim out to the ocean to feed and grow in saltwater. Wild Chinook populations require intensive monitoring. The species is a tremendous resource for commercial and recreational fisheries. They are of huge cultural value to Native American tribes in the region too.

Chinook salmon stocks are in decline throughout some parts of the Pacific Coast while steady or increasing in other areas. The greatest threats to the sustainability of the species are changes in ocean and climatic conditions, habitat loss from dam construction and urban development, and degraded water quality from agricultural and logging practices.

National Fish Hatchery System Celebrated 150th Anniversary In 2022

The USFWS’s National Fish Hatchery System hit a big milestone last year. June 10th, 2022 was the 150th anniversary of the System’s founding. It was first established by Congress in 1872 to help address collapsing wild fisheries and to boost the production of fish as a food source for American families.

The entire System now includes 71 National Fish Hatcheries, 7 Fish Technology Centers, 6 Fish Health Centers, 1 Historic National Fish Hatchery, and the National Fish & Aquatic Conservation Archives. In 2021 those facilities produced 110 million fish for release into wild waters. 106 million of those were sport fish strategically released to enhance recreational fishing opportunities.