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Warm weather affects returns, incubation at Crystal Lake Hatchery


Kyle Clayton / Petersburg Pilot

Kevin Chase opens a drawer filled with King Salmon eggs where they will incubate for the next several months.

After the warm weather that contributed to the death of more than 1000 King Salmon in Blind Slough earlier this summer, Crystal Lake Hatchery hasn’t incubated as many eggs as it would have liked.

Kevin Chase, Crystal Lake Hatchery Manager, said it finished its third and final round of egg takes from its King Salmon return yesterday morning.

“Our goal is a million and a half eggs,” Chase said. “Now we’re at 600,000 to 700,000.”

Crystal Lake will receive eggs from other hatcheries, including one in Juneau, in order to meet its goal.

The water temperature continues to remain an issue. Ideal water temperature is between 8 to 10 degrees and the hatchery is currently measuring its water temp at 15 degrees.

“It’s pretty warm water this year,” Chase said. “We’ve been refrigerating the water to cool it down so they (salmon eggs) don’t grow too fast. It’s been a hot summer.”

Once the bulk of the fish arrive at the hatchery, staff start checking them for ripeness every week. They strip the bellies, extract the eggs by hand and transfer them to an incubation facility. Chase said female salmon have around 5000 eggs each.

The eggs will remain in the incubators through the end of October when Crystal Lake staff will re-seed live eggs and dispose of the dead ones. The eggs will be potted in March.

“We release 600,000 here,” Chase said. “Half million to Anita Bay, another half million go to Neets Bay. Then we’re going to start a City Creek Project and there’s a couple hundred thousand we’ll release there.”

Coho salmon are already arriving and the hatchery will begin spawning them out October 10.

The fish that were taken as eggs this time last year will be released in May 2014.


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