KEYPORT, Wash. (NNS) -- The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport, assisted with efforts to keep the Salish Sea Coho salmon population healthy by facilitating the transfer of more than three hundred thousand fish from a hatchery to a holding area in the local Agate Pass Feb. 18-20.
Coho are a smaller species of salmon common to the waters of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, and efforts have been underway for several years to enhance the health of their population numbers.
“The Suquamish Tribe’s transfer of Coho salmon from the hatchery to the bay pen is assisted by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, or WDFW,´ said Dr. Dawn Grebner, a bioacoustician at NUWC Keyport. The WDFW use their trucks to collect the Coho at the Gorst Creek Hatchery and transport them to the NUWC Keyport Pier.”
The fish are suctioned out of the hatchery ponds into the truck, and then transferred from the truck to the waiting boats at NUWC Keyport by means of a gravity chute.
Grebner said the chute allows the fish to slide down into the waiting boat using gravity, which sharply reduces the animals’ stress level and ensures the health of the transferred population. The fish are suctioned out of their tanks at the hatchery, which can be extremely stressful on the small animals. Simply letting the Coho slide through a water-filled chute from the trucks to the boat at the pier is an effective way to minimize the impact on them.
NUWC Keyport has the only pier in the area that is high enough to allow a gravity chute to be used, and has been a partner in the transfer effort for several decades. NUWC Keyport’s proximity to the hatchery is also important because time is critical in keeping the fish healthy during the transfer.
“Time is a factor,” said Grebner. “There is a limited oxygen supply in the truck, and the truck is carrying around 30,000 fish at a time. That means we have a two, maybe three-hour limit on how long the fish can be in the truck before they become endangered.”
Grebner said she enjoys helping out with the annual effort because it is a simple, but highly effective, way NUWC Keyport can be both a good neighbor to the local community and contribute to positive efforts protecting the local Puget Sound environment.
“These smaller partnerships, like allowing the state and Suquamish Tribe to use our pier, are some of the best ways we can contribute to being good environmental stewards,” said Grebner.
For more news from Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, visit www.navy.mil/local/nuwcd/.