An unfortunate mistake led to the deaths of 390,000 juvenile fall Chinook salmon at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery this week. The incident led to the loss of roughly 3 percent of Coleman’s annual salmon output, which is typically around 12 million.
During a fish-tagging operation on Thursday night, the water was shut off to one of the hatchery’s raceways and wasn’t turned back on. The four-month-old salmon died from lack of oxygen.
“It is an unfortunate mistake and the hatchery has already made adjustments in the hatchery procedures to reduce the likelihood of this happening again,” Brett Galyean of Coleman National Fish Hatchery said to the Record Searchlight.
Although the mistake will have an effect on the salmon output, the hatchery still projects it will meet its yearly goal of 12 million salmon. Nearly 5 million Chinook salmon were released into Battle Creek, a Sacramento River tributary, in March and plan are in place to release 8 million more in April.
This year looks to be monumental for the hatchery’s efforts to reinvigorate salmon populations in Northern California. Due to high water flows, the juvenile salmon released in the area will have a higher probability at survival, with murky waters giving them cover from predators.