California Fish and Wildlife concerned flooding could impact migrating fish populations – ABC10.com

There is not a whole lot to see at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery these days.

These days, muddy water from flooding brought a lot of disappoint during a recent field trip.

The Fish and Wildlife Department is hard at work trying to harvest as many salmon eggs as they can because muddy waters from recent flooding could pose problems for salmon and steelhead.

“It would be like breathing in dirt because that’s what fish breath is water,” Gary Novak, of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, said.

It’s the Fish and Wildlife Department’s job to manage the fish population. They do that by catching salmon and steelhead and growing their eggs in a controlled environment then releasing the babies back in the river.

Harvesting the eggs is not an easy job. They put John Bartell to work, milking sperm out of a steelhead so he could see how hard it is to fertilize eggs.

In flood conditions, eggs are up against big odds in fast water.

“High water may scour out the eggs which may limit natural production,” Novak said.

The death of a few fish could help rebound populations, but not even the eggs are protected from the dirty water.

“Now you can only see two or three inches down,” Novak said.

The Nimbus Hatchery gets its water from the American River, which is full of silt. With no way to filter that dirt out, the baby fish have to breathe it in.

“Survival becomes a lot more difficult,” Novak noted.

The hatchery won’t know if or how many babies died until waters clear up. So for now, visitors at Nimbus will have to enjoy the other sights at the hatchery.

Copyright 2016 KXTV

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