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Bonus Feature

Careful handling of the salmon at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery










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The Crying Fish

July 18, 2013

We followed the government pick-up truck as it sped beneath the pine trees along the back roads of Maine from the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River to the fish hatchery almost 30 miles away. The vehicle was carrying precious cargo - a tank containing 8 adult, endangered, sea run atlantic salmon. They had been captured that morning in the trap coming up the fishway just north of Bangor, Maine.

Salmon, Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River

The salmon had been on their way to a home where they may have never been...heading towards the stream of their origin... or the stream that their brain was telling them was the stream of their origin. Almost 100% hatchery bred, these 3 and 4 year old fish were returning to freshwater from the Atlantic to breed. Males and Females struggled up fishways and over dams trying to swim north... she to deposit up to 8,000 eggs in a shallow gravel-bottomed tributary with rapidly moving water and he to fertilize them with his milt.

Every step of the way gentle, trained hands reach out to move and monitor these re-captured salmon. They are moving them hopefully towards a wild and free future that may be doomed.

Salmon, Veazie Dam on the Penobscot RiverThe fish-handlers are never in a hurry. The trapped salmon are carefully maneuvered into soft sleeves to be moved along; from trap, to barge tank, to truck water tank to pools back at the hatchery where they are scanned and recorded.  Blood and scale samples are taken and they are weighed and measured. There sex is not official until spawning season begins.

The salmon have made their way from swimming and feeding in the icy waters and floes off the coast of Greenland back to the tannin stained waters of the Penobscot River.

Healthy fish with scars from lampreys, seal bites and talon marks on their bodies come through.  After being caught, they are placed in a tranquilizing bath before they are weighed measured and recorded.

Salmon, Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River

In spite of the gentle patience of the workers, the fish do become stressed. Some even hurt themselves trying not to be caught.

Always moving away, against the current incredibly strong...

Following handling, they are placed gently in a larger tank with a big block of salt.  The salt relieves fish stress - just like any salt-mineral bath.

One female fighting to continue her journey banged her face on the metal gate before she could be tenderly moved into the sleeve to be recorded. Bleeding, she whipped herself about...splashing heavily, she fought furiously to keep going home.

So powerful!

I cried. If she cried I could not see her tears in the water.

I know two excellent writers/authors : Marie Mimbs and Peg Callihan Pobiak.


The story about the salmon is such a tribute to everything I believe in. It gives me hope that with your writing, spreading the word that there are people out there who are trying mightily to correct the horrors our short-sighted abuse of our planet and all the fellow creatures, we may inform enough minds to change before time runs out for us all. We will simply kill our planet if we don't recognize that we are all so very interconnected.

Bill J

"There sex is not official……!" Where sex? Over there sex.


Hello dear friends! Yes your story is so good, like always! As you can see I am back in DC. it was a great time in Aschau.

Love and greetings.


Wow! What a story. I wanted to cry too!


What a kind and loving heart is held in the confines of the human body that your spirit now dwells within. One day all spirits will soar together in the freedom we all seek!


Interesting information I almost never get to hear about. Thank you both for participating and reporting.


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