There are actually 3 hatcheries on the bay outside Valdez, each breeding its own type of salmon.
First the salmon, the most important players in this little play, roiling the waters is large groups, waiting to swim up the ladders into the hatchery.
Back to the salmon to watch. They’re supposed to go up a special channel that goes up 29 ladder steps to the top and into the hatchery.
Today when they got to the top, to the huge 80’ tank at the end, they hit a gate because it was Sunday and the hatchery was closed. They’d all swim towards the end and, finding the gate shut, would drift back to the beginning of the tank. Then, when there were lots of them, they’d swish their tails, jump a bit, cause a stir in the water and then ‘wave’ towards the end, splashing and roiling the water as they swam. Then they’d repeat this every 5 minutes or so. I’d be watching the wave reach the end and then I’d look down into the tank and note that there were no salmon there. Sure enough, they had all drifted towards the other end for their next wave. And then it came in, splashing, roiling and surging towards the locked door.
As we walked up the ramp beside the salmon ladder, we read all kinds of informational signs about what the hatchery does. So, along with all the fun, we can learn a lot too. And, believe you me, I know little about salmon. This hatchery has two types of salmon: silver and pink.
We saw the salmon, the gulls, the sport fishermen lining the banks around the hatchery, some seals and sea lions out in the bay but no eagles and no bears - until we left. Too many people here so we saw none here but we did espy one on our way out. It’s a wetlands along the road and lots of salmon with a poor inner GPS land here in the little river that meanders on this side of the road. When the tide goes out, they are stuck on the river bottom, squirming and dying. Some bears know this and wait for a dying salmon to ‘catch’. Here’s one. He knew we were here, but way across the wetlands (close to the open doors of the car for a quick retreat) - but he was much too busy to care about us) but he just kept eating.