I'm working as a Fish Culturist at Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in a remote spot near Sitka, Alaska! AM I CRAZY!? I'm starting to think so...

Monday, August 27, 2007


So I don't really have anything to say but I was motivated to post some pictures because of the pictures I took about 30 minutes ago.

Really there's nothing new except for the fact I was woken up in the middle of the night two nights ago by a bear snorting and sorta growling and carrying on RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW! Kinda freaked me out. It was just sorta walking around and making a lot of noise but I'm not sure why. I was up for about 10 minutes... until I got over the fact that it PROBABLY won't break in... I'm not sure there was another bear out there provolking it or if it was just making alot of noise. They are starting to come around on-site alot more now since there isn't much other food to get elsewhere. The fish hang out here so hey...

OK Pictures...

First here is a picture from the spawning party...
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MMMM... this is from the Saturday spawning party. I do have some picture from the Sunday party but they are umm... a bit... umm... embarrassing? scary? ha They were taken later on in the night so yeah... you understand.

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This picture is for Valerie. This is the Mama Bear and cub. It's hard to see the mom, but she's basically straight down from the cub but in the water... click it to see it bigger, maybe you can see her. It was really cute!

Alright, so these are the pictures that motivated me tonight. I was just walking up to Dan and Deena's house because Adam and Dan are up there making sausages again. And I saw this... and I ran back to get my camera. Of course it's one of those days where ALL of my batteries have about 30 seconds of life left in them. I managed to snap quite a few pictures and a few were really good.

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This was at 8:45pm. It sure is almost September now... it's getting darker earlier. BOO.

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I must have used a different setting on my camera because it's blurrier but lighter...?

OK so these next 2 are taken about 6 minutes later because I ran inside to see if I could get different batteries and to tell Anna to come look. The moon is in a slightly different spot too. They are the same picture actually but I made the higher one lighter... the bottom one is the original one.

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Awesome right!? I was awestruck... MOONSTRUCK, if you will!! :-D

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - Dad, I got your letter! I don't really know when it came though... the day we got the last flight, it wasn't in my box, but it was in my box today for some reason. THANKS... I laughed!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The happenings...

Alright, I am not just LAZY or TOO BUSY to write. This dumb blog site pissed me off the other day so I've been avoiding it. I had a whole big blog typed about the funny happenings of our spawning party and the past few days but then it deleted the whole thing! I was angry... but despite the anger, I was going to sit there and type it all again... well, an shortened version, and it did it again. Anyhow, I had part of it saved so here is the beginning of the post... (P.S. I did it again...)

*cue the post*

So things happen in the Real World that can be called a problem... or a crisis. The same goes for the Hidden Falls Bubble. A crisis in the Real World is like... Hurricane Katrina! A crisis in the Hidden Falls is...


In the Real World, this would only be considered a problem. But when everyone expects to get beer, they drink what beer they have to make room for the NEW beer. The Spawning Party (the biggest HF party of the year, by the way) was planned for Saturday because we didn't have to work Sunday either... People's personal beer should have arrived along with two kegs for the party. When the Friday plane came and no beer came, people went into CRISIS MODE! Someone called the plane company and apparently they had found the beer... so they were going to turn the pilot around with our beer when he got back. He never showed up that night again.


NO... BEER...! More calls were made to the plane company... a different lady was working and had no clue about the whole situation. For some reason, our beer seemed to have come up missing! So people were scrounging for beer, but ended up having SOME. See, everyone though on Friday night "OK the beer will come on Saturday so we'll be fine... let's drink everything else we have." Everyone was pretty crazed about it but a few of the guys ended up finding some beer in their closet (from a while ago)... the crappy liquor was being pulled off the shelves... It's amazing really what NO BEER can do to a party. It was a bit boring but we had some goooooood food! Usually they have a pig to roast over a fire and maybe a lamb too? But this year we just got a lamb... I guess they couldn't get a pig. And we had some pork roasts in Scott's smoker... lots of good stuff! The bugs were nasty... but we stood around around the roaster and played some games. Had a horseshoe tournament... a "Guess how many eggs are in the jar?" game...

(OK MY COMPUTER HATES ME TODAY BECAUSE IT JUST DELETED EVERYTHING I JUST WROTE... and I feel TOO lazy to write it all over... summerizing! Sorry, this is going to be lame.)


THE BEER CAME! Dan and Deena made venison ribs and we had corn too. Ate... drank... we played more games like the "chum toss" and a "distance bucking" competition. Adam ended up winning with like 20 feet something in distance for the bucking. And those chum are slippery to throw! Funniest was when Andy threw his and it went almost straight up in the air and hit the loader tractor 2 feet from him. Then we went back to drinking and standing around the firepit. The idea of settling a past bet came up between Adam and Jess (Jess lost a pool game and was supposed to jump off the dock, but didn't.) So they filled up a round pond and jumped in... along with Tim, his friend and cousin who are here, and Andy. It was funny.

*End of the original post*

So that's the basic jist of what happened. It's amusing how beer will make a party fun or not. Anyhow, Monday for work, most of us were umm... not moving too fast! Especially the few of them that stayed up until 4 in the morning, when work started at 8!

Yeah, so the other happenings at the hatchery... uhhh there's not that much. We're trying to finish up Chinook spawning. It's taking alot longer than normal... usually it lasts like 2 days... but I think we're going on 5? They just don't want to come up the ladder. Plus it's a slower process. We only take eggs from 315 fish I think it is, meaning we only need 630 fish total. They spawn one female and one male into a ziplock bag, then take kidney samples from these fish too. It's to test for some disease and they keep each pair seperate until they get the results. Plus the chinook can weigh up to like 30 lbs. so it's a bit different from chum spawning.

During the spawning, though, I've been working in the Roe Shed. I don't remember if I really explained this but the Roe Shed is where we take eggs (Roe) from all different species of fish that come up the ladder. So the sorters on the spawning table seperate the chinook to be spawned and also send all the female chum, coho, and pink salmon down a shoot to us in the shed (which is just right next to the spawning shed) and we take their eggs. So we fill buckets... then send them on a plane to Juneau to Northern Keta, a caviar processing place.

We spawned chinook a few days last week, then Monday, and also yesterday (Friday). I have been in the Roe Shed all of those days except that it was slow on Friday, and I was just being their "bucket girl," so I walked into the spawning shed to see what was going on really... just to save myself from some boredom. Well Scott said I could help out Adam with the little bags for the kidney samples... then he said Adam could show me how to take kidney samples. So I got to do that for a bit. They were almost done spawning because they didn't have that many fish, but I got to do a bunch still. It's kind of interesting... plus I got to see a bunch of the chinook they were spawning. Man, one of them that came through was so HUGE! I had to lift it up after I took the sample and put it down the grinder shoot and I struggled a tad.

Anyhow, what else... Tim and Jess, two of our seasonals that came in a few months ago, left on Wednesday. They were two of the really short time seasonals, whereas I was hired from Feb. - Nov. I'll miss both of them alot... especially Tim. He was a crazy funny guy! Ok, maybe even Jess, even though we really almost killed each other one day! It sure is quiet around here now though that those two are gone. Both of them on their own are loud, but put them together and they butted heads and argued alot... in a pretty funny way most of the time.

So yeah, speaking of Feb. - Nov. I know that last post, I worried a few of you when I said I had "an announcement." Some of you crazy fools though I was engaged... no. Or you thought I said I was never coming back. I guess time has sorta come for me to think about if I'm staying another season... and just to let you all know, I'm thinking about it. I haven't completely decided but just letting you know... don't freak out. :-) Engaged... GEEZ!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Timmy and Jess, they don't read this... maybe they will...? But I'll miss ya guys. It was a fun time working with you guys! :-D

Monday, August 13, 2007

SO how strong is your stomach today?

OK before I get to how strong my stomach is, there's something more important to announce.

Yesterday, in the History of "Rebecca's stint in Alaska," was the warmest day of the year! Yeah I know... "so what... what does that mean!?"

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Yeah, that's not just some random number... that's the temperature! 73.1 degrees... that means shorts baby! I went out with Adam on his boat... he fished... I sat and read in my shorts and a tank top. Dan and Deena were out fishing right next to us... I watched them all for a bit. Have I told you all about the momma bear and her 3 cubs that have been around? I saw them again... they're CUTE though I haven't seen them close up. It was a fabulous afternoon... Know what was even more amazing!? We got off work early. I knew it was going to be a great shiny warm day right in the morning when I looked at my window thermometer and it read...

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HA Yeah... 80!? At 7:30am, that's not right. That's just real proof to me that thermometer doesn't really work... but yeah. We were in the spawning shed, just us weekend crew, working away at the chum when warm breezes kept blowing into the shed. We were listening to a fun CD... with warm breezes... I was bucking... and all I could help but think was "This is fun!" :-D he he he

SO... Yesterday was supposed to be the last day... but we ran out of fish... then today was supposed to be the last day... but we were short on fish... (Alot of chinook "King" salmon are coming up the ladder now so we were starting to keep them in one of the raceways, meaning we could only fish out of the other raceway.) Actually we've gotten a bunch of different kinds of salmon up the ladder. My favorites are the "humpies!" "THE WHAT!?" you say... the Humpies. The pink salmon... aka Humpies. Male pink salmon as they get ready to spawn grow a big hump on their back... they are pretty looking too.

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That's a humpie... Pink Salmon

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Chinook "King" Salmon... it's coloring was cool. We will be spawning them Thursday and Friday. Lemme tell ya! There are some HUUUUUGE ones coming up the ladder.

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Chinook "King" Salmon... he was bigger than the last.

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It's cute right!? HA HA Shockingly, this is also a king salmon! Just a little tiny male.

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Coho "Silver" Salmon These guys shouldn't be coming up the ladder already but we are getting a few. SO instead of them going down the grinder, they are still good to eat.

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This isn't a GREAT picture but it was the best of my attempts to get a picture of the crazy K-9 looking teeth that the male chum salmon grow. The other day when I was bucking, the males were acting all sorts of crazy and flipping themselves out of the shoot. Well TWICE I got hooked by some of these teeth, scratching my arms. Drawing BLOOD! EKK!

Alright... so spawning lasted only until 11am this morning. What else did we do? Well for an hour BEFORE lunch, we morted the lagoon.

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Really there are no good pictures that can express this job... but here is one I took the other day. See, the chum that don't go up the ladder end up dying in the lagoon. Unfortunately, somehow alot of chum got BEHIND the net so they had no where to go. Because of these big teeth they have too, some tend to get wrapped up in the net and during a low tide, end up hanging from the net to bake in the sun! Most of the fish turn into mush basically... there's a boat we use in the lagoon to put the morts in and drive them over to the weir and let them just get flushed out the weir but... they've got to get IN the boat somehow right!? Today we had to lift up the net and get all the morts from behind it which were grouped up in the corner and up on shore... It's a puke-worthy job. I managed to hold it together, but a few of the other folks darn near almost lost it. Just breathe through your mouth and you are alright... try not to actually let the smell hit your nose! We did have some poker sticks to used but it was almost easier to just grab em by their tales with your hands. Gloves obviously! Plus, sometimes when you poke them with the stick, they pop... they don't exactly EXPLODE but some "juice" aka "crap you don't want spraying on you" comes out a little. It's not pretty! It's just all part of the hatchery job though... it's not just something we had to do this year. You know that smell when your dog rolls in something dead... that's what my rain pants smell like!

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Some of the dead on the rocks underneath Adam's porch. Yeah... the smell of rotting chum wafts in the air around here. I wish I could bottle the smell and send you some! :-D You'd all love it!

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So I know it almost seems kind of cruel when you think about how we shock them and then whack them over the head and stuff... well I've said it before, they will end up dying anyhow if they were left to spawn naturally. See this chum... with the weird white coloring. It's still alive... this is how they start to look eventually. They basically start to fall apart... when we were morting today, I stabbed a fish with my stick that was actually still alive, but it looked like this... it's eyes were holes... they were just gone... I don't even know how it was still alive but it was. They are looking pretty nasty! Spawning for the past few days has been tough and slow also because alot of the eggs are going bad. They get hard... alot you just dump the whole set, alot you have to pick through. But they only have about 20 more buckets to get tomorrow and chum spawning 2007 is OVER. I say "they" because I'm off tomorrow! YAY!

Work will resume for me on Thursday when we will start chinook spawning. This should be really interesting because there are some MONSTER chinook! But actually, I will be working in the Roe Shed. "HUH!?" Yeah... roe = eggs. Deena and I are in charge of that and it's her day off on Thursday so she talked me through it today and I have to run it on my own! EKK! Anyhow, that's where we take roe for caviar. Just strip the eggs out of the fish into buckets... but we have to be very sanitary about it. The eggs will either be loose... just like when we take them to put them in the incubators or they could be "skeined." Despite all the nasty bad fish we are getting, we are still getting "green" fish, meaning they aren't ready to spawn. So when you cut the fish open, instead of the eggs just dumping out, they are still all connected together in almost a pouch-looking skin... so you put out two big lumps of eggs. They are kind of cool actually. That's Thursday and Friday, and then we have to SPAWNING PARTY on Saturday!! YAYYYYY!!! I hear it's a major thing... people who hear about it come out... people from other hatcheries... people from town... Lots of food... they roast a pig! I love parties out here! :-D

Well not much else to tell I guess... my wrist is feeling better but it's not perfect. Still hurts doing certain things. OH, last week they replaced that crazy little ramp at the dock so if I drive the pushcart off it, it's my own damn stupidity! It's wood now and not some crazy bent metal grating. Much nicer! But I still don't trust myself! They have been working on the bunkhouse... painting it green and red like the colors of the permanent resident housing. Though, the bottom level of the front of the bunkhouse needs repairing so slowly they are getting to that. So instead of painting it all, they have the top level green, and only the few panels they have fixed on the bottom level green. The rest is still blue, so it looks a bit white trash. But I have a picture of the SIDE which includes Angie's new apartment that is all nice and green for you to see. It'll look really nice once the whole thing is done though.

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That's that... I think I've said everything for now? Maybe... who knows...

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To mom, thanks for the card. :-D Everyone else, WHERE'S MY MAIL!?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

OH, the things you learn during spawning...

Spawning continues... today is my "Wednesday" in the week, though it's really Saturday.

The other day we hit the all time record... 9.4 million eggs on Friday I think. That's aloooooooot! It didn't even FEEL like we were going THAT fast... crazy! Finally my wrist is starting to feel better but it still hurts alot. I've been taking it easy on it... trying to do jobs that are the LEAST painful. But now I'm tired of running buckets back and forth from the incubators! So yesterday I was chompin' at the bit to do some "bucking." It hurt some but not enough for me to stop. I did it this afternoon too. I'm gonna try some spawning soon... aka getting the eggs... see if my wrist will hold up on me.

Anyhow, today was the Weekend crew spawning... that's me, Adam, Tim, Dan, Deena, and Sarah... Branden worked too but he was taking care of the other fish and doing other stuff. I was hauling buckets this morning and was getting SOOO bored with it so I was happy to be the "bucker" after lunch. Deena and Adam were spawning and Tim and Dan were working the sorting table. It seems I'm not the only one who is falling apart because Sarah has developed a nice lump on the top of her hand and she doesn't seem to know why! Sounds just like my finger injury... which still hurts alot too by the way! So she was haulin buckets.

ANYHOW, somehow this afternoon, an eyeball fight began. It was Deena and I vs. Tim in the back. I don't remember who started it. Maybe Tim because when you hit the fish in the back, alot of times you can pop or partially pop their eyes out. THEN Deena taught me how to pop an eyeball out of a fish so she was spawning them and randomly popping eyes out. Eventually we had a large pile of them that we would occasionally throw at each other. Funny stuff... I managed to stick one to Tim's shirt... and hit him in the head. He hit me pretty hard in the ear once! Anyhow, sorry if this grossed you all out! Mom, I'm sure you are grossed out. HA HA Oh well... we had fun.

Besides that, there really isn't anything else new. My Final Harry Potter book came the other day soooo I've been reading that, though I'm only 200 pages in (out of like 780). I signed up for Netflix because we got tired of watching the same 'ol movies... we being Adam and me. Oh and I figured it was the only way to get MAIL ON A REGULAR BASIS! UH HUH... grrrr...

Anyhow, I DO want to thank Grandma Moser and Aunt Sandy for the mail... thank you!

Back to mooooore spawning tomorrow... we might have to call a truse (sp?) with Tim, otherwise, we may have a full day of eyeball fighting! he he he

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Melissa and Mike! Happy 1st Anniversary tomorrow! I can't believe it's been a year already... congrats! :-D I love you both!