The Arlington Times reports on student tours at the Stillaguamish Hatchery:

Kip Killebrew, fish enhancement biologist with the hatchery, showed the students how harvested eggs and sperm are combined in the hatchery’s trays to fertilize the eggs.

“If somebody needs a heart transplant, that heart has to be alive for it to be put into that person,” Killebrew said. “These sperm and eggs can stay alive for 24 hours after they’re harvested, but once they’re mixed, I only have 30 seconds to get their tray back onto the rack, because after that, the slightest bump could kill them.”

Killebrew emphasized that ensuring a continuous flow of water into the trays is just as important to the fertilized eggs’ survival, because if their oxygen supply isn’t replenished, they’ll suffocate and shrivel up. He concluded his remarks to the students by summing up what the juvenile salmon eat at the hatchery.

“Since we can’t grow billions of bugs for them to eat, like they’d find in streams, we have to come up with salmon power bar substitutes,” said Killebrew, who listed the ingredients as wheat germ, fish parts and blood, shrimp oil and vitamins.