Salmon Spawning:

A Photo Essay

This is a Photo Essay of a group service project conducted for BLS 386: Global Environmental Issues, taught by Dr. Dan Jaffe, which is offered at the Univ. of Wash. Bothell campus. The intent of the project was to be a "hands-on" group service project that encompassed: an active roll in the community, the relationship between man and his interaction with the environment, and the ability to work together in a group atmosphere.  

This is a "brief" outline of the steps involved into the spawning process of salmon conducted at the  Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Issaquah, Washington.  

The photos show the steps and actions taken by men in our attempt to insure the successful reproduction of  Pacific Northwest Salmon, specifically Coho when our group was there.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

Washington State Salmon Hatchery in Issaquah


This is one of the two pens where salmon come into from the nearby stream by way of a manmade fish ladder.

Currently there are more pens in the process of being built.


salmon holding pen
Cliff standing on cage Picture of  Cliff standing on top of the hydraulic cage. The cage is raised and then moved to the side of the pen where the fish enter. The cage is then lowered and moves back to the other end of the pen, herding them into a tight manageable area where they will be caught.   
Landy sitting on one of the two hydraulic cages taking notes. As can be seen in the picture, the cage moves along from end to end of the pens on rails. In the previous picture the cable that raises and lowers the cage can be seen. Landy taking notes
collecting of the fish Once the fish have been herded into a manageable working area they are caught in nets. The photo shows the cage (on the right) with an opening, this is to allow the workers to throw back salmon that are not quite mature enough and they are held in the pens until the hatchery does the spawning process again (about a week later). 
Normally there are four individuals in the pen collecting fish. However, both Joe and Brian jumped into the COLD water to  "help" with the process. The fish are collected and sorted. As stated before, those that aren't quite ready are tossed back till the next herding. Joe freezing in the water

Brian having fun helping to kill the salmon

Those fish that are taken will be whacked on their head until dead. Two men stand outside of  the pen are assigned to the job of whacking. The fish are then tossed onto the work table which is situated on the outside of the pen.
Two men work at the fish table. Slicing open the females, the eggs are removed. sorting the fish

fish being striped of repproduction components

Taking the fish from the table, the sorters remove the eggs from the female fish into a bucket and then fertilize the eggs with the sperm from a male fish.  

Here is a picture of the removal of the eggs into the bucket. The worker holds the fish by its gills in one hand while removing the eggs with his other hand.

removal of eggs

Joe checks the fish with a wand

Once the eggs have been fertilized, the buckets are stacked until they are ready to be moved into the hatchery facility. Once there the buckets will be emptied into troughs and monitored. 

Once the fish have been used for spawning they are discarded into large containers. Before going into the containers they are checked for metal tags. The Issaquah Hatchery no longer marks fish in this manner; however, the fish are still checked for possible strays from other hatcheries. 

Here we see Joe with the "magic wand" checking the fish.

The discarded fish are then packed in ice to be shipped to contractors who will recycle the remains into fertilizer and other products.


Thus concludes the cycle of many of these fishies... 

Dead salmon awaiting their finial fate
Scientific Name:
Oncorhynchus kisutch.
Average Length:
2-5ft./ .61-.76m.
Average Weight:
8-12 lb./3.6-5.4 kg.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery has an active volunteer program. To get involved you can contact The Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (F.I.S.H.) at (425) 392-1118

The group members who took part in this project:

Other links of interest:

This page was designed by Joseph Lubin <>

   Photos taken by Cliff Remily   (with exception to the first one) <>

Created using Microsoft FrontPage 4.0
Last Revised: 09-Dec-1998 at 18:27 PST