Sabotage Likely The Cause In Deaths Of Salmon Smolt

Sitka Sound Science Center

KTOO Public Media has details on a likely act of vandalism that killed roughly 1,100 coho salmon smolt

Hatchery intern Maria Savolainen discovered the vandalism and reported it to Sitka police.

So 1,000 juvenile salmon — no big deal, right?

Wild coho, or silver salmon, spend more than a year in freshwater after they’ve hatched, before entering the ocean.

For a hatchery, growing coho to this size — about 24 grams in weight — is a big deal.

These fish were hatched here in the spring of 2016.

“They spend that first whole winter up until April in incubation, and they come out as little more than a quarter-gram,” Bowers said.

“They look like they’re 4 or 5 inches long now?” Woolsey asked

“Yep,” Bowers said.

This is not a huge tragedy, Bowers is the first to admit that.

It’s fortunate Savoleinen came in Saturday to feed the smolt, or the tank may have drained entirely, and killed all 15,000 silvers.

A little more from the Associated Press:

“We thought it was going to be much worse than it was,” said Lisa Busch, the center’s executive director. “Why would someone do this, though?”

Staff members first believed the valve might have been turned off by accident, Busch said.

“Originally, we thought it may have been a family visiting and a kid did it,” Busch said. “But it takes some strength to turn the valve.”

The loss of the young salmon resulted in about $1,100 in damages, said Angie Bowers, the center’s aquaculture director.

The center is installing surveillance cameras and taking steps to secure the water valves against tampering, officials said.


The fish in the tank have been at the hatchery for nearly 20 months, Bowers said. They were scheduled to be released soon to begin an 18-month ocean journey.