Monday, July 8, 2013

Project Reaching Out

A large component of my summer internship with salmon here in Alaska is outreach.  KRAA has been successfully stocking the island of Kodiak since 1983, yet most people assume the two interns living in the field are with Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the national government division. While there are many combined projects, Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association stocks lakes and rivers running the entire road system—that single main road on the island I told you about—with all different species of salmon. Being interns from another state and with little salmon background, we have wild aspirations and energetic responses to all suggestions, which KRAA is happy to embrace.  Our first attempt at outreach was simply talking to all the fishermen that wander around our trailer trying to catch Chinook.  People in Alaska are immensely friendly, and fishermen are no exception, especially when you talk with them about their beloved fish.  Turns out people are largely uninformed of the many stocked lakes and rivers here, fishing only the few big names.  So, we developed and handed out pamphlets describing the desirable species anglers go for, with information about KRAA and, most importantly, a map of the stocked lakes and rivers along the road system. And you can imagine how excited people were about this! Everyone is happy to learn more about KRAA, welcomes new fishing spots, and enjoys our outreach. Indeed, simple things can make a big difference.

To get a better understanding of anglers’ preferences over fish species, rivers, and awareness, we developed a survey. Short enough to keep the attention of people fishing, it asks anglers where they fish, what kinds of fish they like, and about their familiarity with KRAA.  In other words, we utilize our socializing personalities and chat up fishermen who are always happy to see the opposite gender, and talk about their favorite subject: salmon!  It seems after living in a camper for a month we are both ecstatic to have interactions with people other than ourselves.  And what better way to put this to use than adding to KRAA’s efficiency.

survey time at the American River

Another project, still in the makings, is an info table beside our trailer.  I can’t even tell you how many people hesitantly observe our trailer and us or ask us what’s up with the weir when they come out to our end of the road to fish or enjoy the beach.  However, when we strike up a conversation people are eager to know more and quickly lose any reservations that we are regulators of sorts.  Included on this display table will be a photo diagram of our King salmon’s life journey, beginning with their return from the sea upriver and into our weir.  Then it will flow through harvesting the eggs, hatching more salmon, releasing those juveniles, and circling around to their return to the weir 5-6 years after being brought into the world.  I tell you all this because we’ve been working on gathering and taking the right photographs for the board, some of which I took and have posted.  I’ve also videoed a quick portion of a king salmon’s journey into our weir.  Below you can see a salmon’s perspective of swimming upstream and navigating the deep water and narrow openings to swim through.

Chinook salmon weir on Monashka Creek...otherwise known as home

salmon's view swimming upstream and into the weir

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