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...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Birthdays and Coho and bears, OH MY...

Hey! I want to start out by thanking all of you for the birthday wishes, birthday emails, birthday cards, and even birthday packages and presents!!

There hasn’t been a whole lot going on lately… so this isn’t going to be very exciting. They have been busy doing lots and lots of Cost Recovery on the Coho… that means seining up the fish swimming around and then they get processed. We turned on the fish ladder this past weekend for the Coho to go up into the raceways so for the past few days we have been sorting them. I’m sure I talked about this last year cause it’s no fun… but we do this by bringing live and lively Coho up in the shock box, unshocked, push them into a fish tote that has a Clove oil/alcohol solution mixed in. It puts them to sleep a bit, but after a few minute in plain water, they wake up. The first few days we just threw males and females into one of the raceways, and since we have a big run of Coho this year, we can be picky with them. There were a bunch of small males so we just put those into a DIFFERENT raceway and we won’t use those, or beat up or small females. So those bigger fish are going to be uses for Deer Lake. Then we started throwing fish into another raceway (once we had the Deer Lake fish) for us. We inject our fish with Gallimyacin, which is some kind of… stuff to prevent diseases. Sorry I can’t even think of the words to explain what the stuff is. All I can think of is Antibiotic but that’s not it. Anyhow, we only inject the females that we keep for our eggs. Actually this job hasn’t been that bad… You have to put your hands in the super cold water to get the fish… and it’s so cold! I think we might have done this alittle bit later last year, so maybe the water was colder. It still was cold this year, but maybe my hands just adjusted a little better. I was also wearing these arm things so the cold water wasn’t hitting my arms, but these plastic things.

Oh I forgot this too… last week I helped out with tagging small Coho. I spent like 4 full days. 8 hours a day, clipping adipose fins off of little Coho. It was a very tedious job and my back KILLED the whole time! We knock the fish out with that same clove oil solution, clip their adipose fins (purely for the purpose of knowing that that fish is a tagged fish), then the next person sticks the head of the fish into this little machine, which, through a needle, sticks a tiny coded wire tag into their head. During spawning, we get a lot of adult kings and coho with that missing adipose fin. We have to put those aside, measure and sex them, cut their heads off and send them into a lab, where they take out the tag. Each group of fish tagged have the same number so that will say what year they are from and where they were grown, etc. It’s just a way of knowing some information about the fish.

Anyhow, sorry about the “things” and the “stuffs” and the “likes”… I guess I can’t think of words to use today! Besides dealing with Coho, big and small, all we have been doing is feeding fish really… and gluing together 384 PVC incubator pieces, in hopes that our new incubators will come before we need to put eggs in them in November! Now that the fish ladder is back on, bears are starting to hang out there more. While walking to work, Adam saw a bear climb INTO the fish ladder and walk down it toward the water. Of course, it was our friend, the tagged bear. For a little while, they seemed to be spending less time around, and I guess it still seems like they are around less, but there’s usually a bear or two or four around. The sow and three GIANT cubs seem to be daily regulars, and it’s fun watching them. Those cubs are getting so big and sometimes, you can’t even tell which bear is the mom, and she’s not a small bear! Unfortunately, more bears are on site... besides the obvious reason why that’s not good, there is another bad reason… POOP! Lots of bear poop all over. And nothing solid. Alright, sorry if that’s vulgar!

Well, I didn’t get to town on my birthday like I wanted to. But we are going next weekend! So if you want to call me Friday night, Saturday or Sunday, feel free! Not THIS weekend… the 25, 26, and 27. I’m not sure when the flight is Friday or Monday though so if you don’t reach me, that’s probably why. Guess I have to charge up my phone cause I’m expecting A LOT of phone calls! :-) Just kidding. I’ll probably call people before they call me. My birthday was pretty low key… we hung around for a while, then went out in the boat for a bit and Adam fished, but it wasn’t that great cause the water was a little choppy. Hard to read in those conditions. I decided to forgo having a cake baked for me and celebrating with a lot of people. A bunch of people are out of town anyhow. So Adam and I bought all the fixings and decided to have an ice cream sundae extravaganza! It was good! We had a plane the Friday before my birthday and Adam flew in a bouquet of flowers for me, which was fabulous! They look great still, almost a week later and there are still a few flowers yet to bloom. They are white and bright pink/purple lilies that smell GREAT, some smaller purple lilies and a few purple snapdragons. They are really nice, and the first flowers I’ve ever gotten, which makes them so much better!


Umm… well I guess I can’t really think of much else to say. If you are looking for something interesting to watch on tv next week, the new Survivor starts. There is a guy on it who is the father of a kid Adam grew up with. It’s a little cool! Again, thanks everyone for the birthday wishes, cards, and gifts! I loved them all! You guys have fun! As for me, I’m eagerly awaiting next week, when a FABULOUS movie that I pre-ordered should arrive (The Sex and The City Movie), and then I get to head to town (where I’m sure it’ll be boring but atleast I can wander around!) That’s all for now!

Here are some pictures...

I love these guys... really! The picture doesn't show the effect of how cute it was when mom was standing over both of her cubs while they were eating. The other cub is in the back.

So last week, maintenence was working on the deck to the duplex. These are the stairs on our side... the day before, they replaced the stairs and stained them nicely. Well the bears had their fun that night, licked all the stain off of the lower stairs (Notice how they get darker as they go higher... the top stair is fine.) There are some strands of bear fur stuck there and that 2nd step down had some bear claw marks through the stain.

I just thought this was cool.

So I wrote all that last night, but the internet wouldn't work right to post it. Today, I have a weird bear story. This morning Adam noticed some bear by the weir net that was acting weird... kind of dragging it's butt. Well it wasn't moving for a while, even though there were two bears that were standing there waiting to get around it. After a little while it moved but we didn't see it. Well, it managed to move itself to the middle of the grassy area behind the lagoon. This time we noticed it was definately messed up. Using the binoculars, we saw that it was dragging itself. It couldn't use it's two back legs which were both just dragging behind it. We felt so bad for it! It was pulling all it's 500+ lb. weight on it's two front legs. We're not sure how it got that way or what happened to it, or even which bear it was. He would drag himself a few feet and then looked like it had to rest and was panting. It was so sad! Eventually we didn't see him anymore because he pulled himself out of sight but I have a feeling we won't see him again... probably won't make it. I wish I knew what happened to it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just another week...

So I'm sitting here slightly bored and I think, "Maybe I should write a blog..." But then I realize, "I've got NOTHIN! I don't really even have any good pictures!"

Well I do have a few pictures but that's about all.

We haven't been doing anything lately except feeding fish. Our boss came back from vacation a few days ago and even he hasn't really thought of anything good to do. But for the past few days, I've been helping Adam out with the Cost Recovery efforts. There are ALOT of Coho around, though they aren't ready to spawn. So we have a boat that seines them up. Lately, they've been putting them in the broodstock pens that we have out there to keep them alive, then we have a processing boat come and they net the fish out, cut their gills while still alive, and then the fish go down in the holds and taken somewhere. I guess they get more money for them this way, as apposed to the boat seining them up and just putting them in the hold of their boat (and they probably die?) Anyhow, I'm not sure how the whole money thing works out but since it's "cost recovery, " our company gets the money instead of the seiner (though they get paid for helping us out.) I guess we're getting $2 per pound... and the fish are averaging about 8 pounds (some bigger). So that's $16 a fish on average... We're talking a half a million dollars worth of fish here... or more. SOOOOOO... it's pretty essential! All I've been helping out with though is putting the fish into the pens from the seiner net.

Well that's literally about all I have to say! Here are a few pictures...

So the other day, this bear was right outside the window just eating a fish. It's the tagged bear that likes to come on site and cause problems. He really hasn't done anything except steal a bucket, but he shouldn't be on site. He doesn't seem to get scared away either. But I took a video of him through the window with him knowing I was there because I was making sounds. He wasn't fazed.

These are the two tiny baby cubs! Aren't they so adorable!? I call them my twin babies. See the size difference between mom and the two... I love watching them cause they are so clumsy and funny.

AWW!! Look at that cute stomach! :-)

Well that's all I have... next weekend is my birthday and Adam and I might head to town. We're still not sure yet though because he has to do rounds at night (meaning he has to make sure things are still working by walking around every night around 8... and he has to be on site all week) So unless he can change a few days with someone, we might have to put that trip off for a few weeks until the plane schedules work out again. I'll let you know so you all can call me on my phone! :-) If you feel the need to send me a birthday gift, I'd like some Red Vines (they are like twizzlers but a little different) I don't want twizzlers though... RED VINES! Maybe some gummy bears... and Adam would like some Reese's cups.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK - If you are looking for a good movie, I have a few.

If you want more of a kid-friendly movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a good movie! It's about a 243 year old man that owns a magic toy store. I thought it would be more KID-like and more animated but it is a pretty good movie!

If you are looking for a pretty funny PG-13-ish movie, What Happens In Vegas is really funny and good! It's about two people that end up getting married after a crazy drinking night in Vegas (after knowing each other for a day), win a $3mill jackpot, but end up having to live as a married couple for 6 months in order to get their share of the money. Well it's a funny, funny movie, and I recommend it! It's brand new.