DAS Members Help with Fin Clipping at LSSU

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Last Dime
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DAS Members Help with Fin Clipping at LSSU

Post by Last Dime »

On Monday, May 6, 2019 at 8:00 am, DAS Treasurer Rod Elnick and I met with Roger Greil, Aquatic Research Laboratory Manager at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. We were there to help students fin clip the Atlantic salmon that will be released in June into the St. Mary’s River. If you recall Roger was at one of our membership meetings last year speaking about the Atlantic salmon program at LSSU and the DAS has been donating a $1500 annual Scholarship to students in the fisheries and biology programs at the university. Beginning last year, the DAS has also been providing some volunteers to help with fin clipping, thus our being there.

Roger gave us about a half-hour tour with some education on how the lab and program works. As you know Rod heads up the DAS Salmon-In-the-Classroom program and is currently working closely with 5 schools. The workings of the lab, although on a much larger scale, were familiar to Rod but I was amazed at how the rearing of the Atlantic salmon happens. I was very excited to be a part of this and was looking forward to helping out.

After the tour, Roger introduced us to Gary and Brad, the students we would be working with through the course of the day. We were both given an apron and latex glove for the left hand. As Rod and I are both right handed, we would be holding the fish with our left hands for clipping and that hand would be spending much of the day in the 39 degree river water in the trays and buckets. Gary and Brad showed Rod and me how to do the fin-clipping. This was a very simple procedure using scissors to clip the right pectoral fin from each fish and placing them into the raceway from which the fish would be released. The fish were from 4 to 8 or 9 inches long. Among the pictures attached to this post are some that clearly show the fin clipping operation and there is also a link to a video included.

It was Brad and Gary’s job to capture and sedate fish into a 5 gal bucket from a different raceway that Rod and I would net into a tray for fin clipping. They use a chemical called MS222 (Tricaine-S methane sulfonate) which sedates the fish for 5-10 minutes. This is enough time to fin clip a bucket full of fish.

We brought along a perch counter that Carl Ventimiglia purchased. Jim Zanke made some modifications by adding a plastic funnel inside and removing a return spring to make sure these smaller fish would trigger the counter. We only brought the one to try and if successful it was the BOD’s intention to donate up to 4 of these to assist in future fin clippings. Roger and Gary and Brad were thrilled and thankful that we brought the counter and it worked out very well. They had been doing manual check counting (IIII) on sheets of paper and this made the counting much easier.

DAS Members Ray and Linda Banbury joined us about 9:30 am and the four of us with a short break for lunch spent the entire day until 3:30 fin clipping over 6,000 fish. We did take a short break about 10:45 am. Sharon Dorrity, Director of Constituent Relations of the LSSU Foundation stopped by to meet us. With LSSU photographer John Shibley on hand, we took the opportunity to get a photo with Rod & I handing Sharon & Roger the big photo-op check (and the actual $1500 check) for this year’s scholarship. Ray & Gary, on one side of us continued to fin clip while Linda & Brad were on the other side. This made for a great picture that captured it all. We have not received the digital copy of the photo as of yet. But it will be posted here as soon as we get it.

DAS Director Blaise Pewinski and Member Rob Pinskey spent the day on Thursday, May 9 helping 3 LSSU students to fin clip over 6800 fish to finish this year’s stock for planting. The total count was some 19,000 fish that will be released into the St. Mary’s River in June. The stock was a little down this here as there was a parasite in the river water that caused some mortality early on until the problem was resolved. Besides feeding, the remainder of time will be spent in acclimating the fish to the river water. The actual release is rather simple as they open a valve on a large pipe in each raceway and the fish and water are washed into the St. Mary’s.

I personally enjoyed this experience and I am grateful to be able to help with this wonderful program at LSSU. As Roger Greil told us during lunch “Our goal is not to release Atlantic salmon but to educate and give the students a rewarding experience. The salmon are a benefit we receive”
The Detroit Area Steelheaders will continue to support the LSSU Aquatics Research program with our scholarship and other donations. We are also looking forward to continue with the help during fin-clipping. It would be tremendous if we could provide 8 volunteers in the future. If you have the time next year, consider giving up a day for this extremely worthwhile experience.

Bob Ksionzek

Short Video of DAS Members helping Fin Clip at LSSU

Some Pics from our experience:
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Bad Dog
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Re: DAS Members Help with Fin Clipping at LSSU

Post by Bad Dog »

Thank you Jim Zanke for modifying the fish counter. And thanks to all the Steelheaders who volunteered to help with fin clipping last week.

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