Completing a life cycle: The Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River

I’m still amazed by my recent visit to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Salmon work hard to complete their journey and¬†spawn. The hatchery plays an important role in insuring the salmon life cycle.

Here’s what Wikipedia says: From November through March river water flows down the fish ladder to encourage fish to enter and climb the steps to the hatchery. The gate at the foot of the ladder is closed when the holding pool at the top is full in order to prevent overcrowding. Ripe (ready to spawn) fish are brought from this holding pool into the hatchery spawning deck, where workers collect eggs from the females and milt from the males. Fertilized eggs are placed in hatching jars, with river water upwelling from the bottom to simulate natural conditions. When the eggs are ready to hatch the jars are tipped into large tubs where the baby fish (alevin) will remain while they absorb their yolk sacs and become free-swimming. They are then moved outside to raceway pools where they are feed multiple times a day and grow rapidly. Once the fish are ready to begin their outmigration to the ocean, at 60 fish to the pound for salmon and 4 fish to the pound for steelhead trout, they are loaded into tanker trucks and transported to the river for release. From here they make their way downstream and eventually journey out to sea.[7]

The salmon work hard, jumping to get out of the holding tank. Taking their picture was also difficult. At first I tried to follow a possible jumper. That didn’t work. Then I tried zone focusing, which worked better. I was shooting at a shutter speed of 1/160, but still some of the fish were not in focus. My other problem was a slow reaction time. Sometimes I didn’t push the shutter down fast enough. They jump so fast, water splashing all over the place, and some jumping around the one I had in sight. I did get enough though.

My lesson for the day: patience. I just stood there, camera aimed and waited. I know, that’s not me, but I did it!

At certain intervals, the salmon are pushed into the building where their eggs are collected. I was about to shoot the last fish being gutted when a worker stepped in front of my camera. All I have is a shot of them cleaning the table.

We were fortunate enough to have a Ranger show us a female that still had some eggs in her.

So, take a look at my adventure.

The salmon are running: Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River

I have never seen such determination. The Chinook Salmon have returned to spawn, but with most of their natural spawning areas lost by the creation of Folsom and Nimbus Dams, the California Department of Fish and Game created the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to mitigate the problem.

I’ve given you many links to read about this amazing fish hatchery, and I do hope you read more. To summarize, the salmon eggs are gathered at the hatchery, hatched and let loose down river when the fish are old enough. The cycle comes full circle when the mature salmon come to complete their life cycle, trying to find their spawning spot. They operate on such instinct that they are persistent as they jump the ladders.

It is an amazing site to see. Take a look!

 

Late morning practice: Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River, California

I love the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group. It’s where I learn by seeing what others post, asking questions and attending activities. It’s through this group that I found out about the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, and I thought it would be a good place to practice shooting on manual.

And it is. There were birds, people fishing, a nice path to walk on and a great visitor’s center. I wish I were feeling better so I could have stayed longer, but I did what I could. Also, I shot my D3100 on aperture priority because I couldn’t remember how to change the F stop in the manual setting. Now I’m wondering whether I ever had that camera on manual!

I also realized that I need more practice shooting flying birds and getting them in focus. So, this morning while getting a pedicure, I read all about focus for the D7100. I am determined to push and advance in my photography knowledge this year.

I will go back to the fish hatchery and practice. And, I will continue enjoying the Sacramento Photographers group.