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VIDEO: Quatse River Hatchery saves stuck salmon

Many salmon were trapped in the river because of low water levels.

Volunteers and staff at the Quatse River Salmon Hatchery are working to save thousands of salmon from the Quatse River.

The river water levels are low, which makes it difficult for the salmon to successfully swim up stream and spawn, and is leaving many salmon trapped in a pool of water in a section of the river near the Quatse Loop trail parking lot.

“The water temperature is high-ish and that makes the oxygen levels low, so what we are trying to do is get those fish out of there so they don’t succumb in that pool,” said Quatse River Hatchery Manager Lorraine Landry.

She added because the water is low the fish have to expose themselves when they swim up the river, so some brave fish have made it up to the grand stand, which is the popular swimming hole by the Quatse River Campground, but most are still sitting in the pool by the parking lot.

On the morning of Sept. 6, the volunteers and staff set a seine net in the river to gather pink and some chum salmon, before transporting them back to the hatchery.

“We may see some coho, but we will be releasing them back into the river and will be coming back for them later on because it’s just too soon for us to bring them back to the hatchery,” said Landry.

Four people in wet suits and four people in chest waders entered the river to set the net and gather the salmon, which they then scooped into buckets that were quickly transferred to live fish trucks and sent to the hatchery.

While scooping the salmon out of the net they even found a starry eyed flounder that swam up river from the estuary.

Their target was to take 1,250 females and 1,250 males of mainly pink salmon back to the hatchery where they will be held for a couple of weeks until they are ripe and the hatchery can spawn them.

“I just want to try and get as many fish as we can and get them to the hatchery as fast as we can and get a good water flow and hopefully we don’t lose too many,” said Landry.

The hatchery will repeat the operation in a month when the coho salmon are ready to be moved.