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Dylan Burbank, a fish technician for the non-profit Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Inc. (NSRAA), tosses a chum salmon ready for sorting and processing at a temporary weir located the man-made spawning channel of Herman Creek near Haines, Alaska.
NSRAA built the channel to collect wild broodstock by harvesting spawning female and male salmon for their eggs and milt to artificially spawn wild chum salmon. The eggs are fertilized with milt and placed in stream-side incubation boxes on Herman Creek and the Klehini River. In 2014, 2.4 million eggs were seeded into these incubation boxes. The 2013 incubation box survival rate was 90%. Without the artificial spawning, natural survival is said to be only 10%.
Based in Sitka, Alaska, NSRAA conducts salmon enhancement projects in northern southeast Alaska. It is funded through a salmon enhancement tax (of three percent) and cost-recovery income. NSRAA also produces sockeye, chinook, and coho salmon.
Male chum salmon return to Herman Creek to spawn with female chum salmon during the fall chum salmon run. The chum salmon return to freshwater Herman Creek, tributary of the Klehini River after living three to five years in the saltwater ocean. Spawning only once, chum salmon die approximately two weeks after they spawn.
Chilkat River and Klehini River chum salmon are the primary food source for one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world. Each fall, bald eagles congregate in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.
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- © John L. Dengler
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