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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/212

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206
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

small percentage of the year's product for the river. At Battle Creek Hatchery alone that year, 1897-8, there were nearly 50,000,000 eggs taken. There is little migration of the young salmon during the summer months. In August we could account for 94 per cent. of the fry we had marked in one of the pools in July; 76 per cent. in the pool in which they were released, and 18 per cent. in the pool below.

The growth of the larger fry in fresh water is slow. The average size of the marked fishes in August was 3.91 inches, in September 3.86 inches, in October 4.20 inches, in November 4.20 inches, being a total gain of but.29 inch in three months. The earlier rate was.3 inch per month. Another effect of this summer residence in fresh water is the maturing of the male genital organs. A large proportion of the males that remain in fresh water until they reach a length of four inches becomes sexually mature. Its significance is not understood, and its effect upon the future growth of the fish is not known. The number of parasites found in the stomachs of young salmon living in fresh water increases with their size and with the time of year, there being more in the fall than earlier. Their food in fresh water at all ages, seasons, and places is insects, about two thirds being aquatic larvae, and the other third adult insects.

 

The Adult.

As stated above, young salmon reach the ocean when four or five months old. Concerning their habits from that time until they return to fresh water at maturity, we know very little. They are occasionally taken in the ocean near San Francisco, but so rarely as to indicate very little concerning their habits. They are abundant in Monterey Bay during the spring and early summer, but their appearance there is only the first step in their migration up the rivers to spawn.

The length of their stay in the ocean has been determined with considerable certainty by a series of observations carried on recently with the Columbia River salmon, which is the same species as the Sacramento salmon. In May, 1896, 5,000 young salmon 2.5 inches long were marked by cutting off the adipose fin, and were released in the Clackamas Biver, a tributary of the Columbia. The eggs from which they were hatched were spawned in September, 1895. During the summer of 1898, a little over two years after the marking, and a little less than three years after the spawning of the eggs, 375 of the marked salmon were taken in the Columbia, and five were taken in the Sacramento River in California. A few more were taken both in the Columbia and in the Sacramento in 1899, and again in 1900. The size of those taken in 1898 varied from 10 pounds to 57 pounds.

Besides indicating the age of the spawning salmon, this experiment shows that most salmon return to the river through which they reached the ocean. They do not do this because it is the stream in which