Circle of Life

FORKS (Oct. 31, 2005) — The difference between a rectangle and a circle doesn’t usually mean life or death, but that’s the case for Sol Duc River chinook salmon retained for spawning by the Quileute Tribe.

The tribe recently acquired two circular, 16-foot diameter Fiberglas tanks to hold adult summer chinook for use in the tribal supplementation for the depressed stock. Previously, the fish were held in nearly 20-year-old rectangular concrete raceways. “Concrete gets worn and rough over the years,” said Dahnielle Buesch, hatchery manager for the Quileute Tribe. “As fish thrash around in that environment, they get beat up on the concrete. Those cuts are susceptible to infection and can lead to death, reducing the number of eggs we can take to rear.”

In the first year of using the circular tanks, where fish are held from June until September, adult survival rose to nearly 90 percent from lows of 60 percent in many years. “It’s no secret among hatchery folks that circular, Fiberglas tanks improve survival rates,” said Buesch. “Other factors also contribute to the success, such as the fact we’re able to use spring water instead of river water in the tanks. Spring water cuts down the potential for disease transmission and is better for the fish because its temperature is more consistent. The tanks, though, are a huge part of improving survival.”

The project was paid for by a $23,000 Bureau of Indian Affairs Hatchery Cyclical Maintenance Fund.


For more information, contact: Mel Moon, natural resources director, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5695; Dahnielle Buesch, hatchery manager, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5696; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson, (360) 374-5501, [email protected]