Working the river that sunny day were John Sweka and Meredith Barton of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Dan and Eric from the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission.

This was a collaborative project between their agencies. Their goal : to determine habitat features that influence juvenile Atlantic Salmon abundance. And secondarily to use genetic analysis to determine relative movement of these young salmon within our river.

The river was strung shore to shore with nets. Dan was using the electric wand to temporarily stun the creatures so they would be easy to collect. The other three were using large nets to quickly capture the dazed fish and transfer them to buckets for evaluation. They found crayfish and eels among the fish.

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John explained We're basically using genetics as a "mark". We know the genetics of all male and female salmon that were spawned at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery (in East Orland, Me) in 2004, and we know which female was fertilized with which male. The offspring of each mating were only stocked into a single river section. When we collected an age 0+ parr, we clipped a small section of caudal fin to take back to the lab. Genetic analysis will then tell us who the parents of each parr were and we will then know where it was originally stocked in the spring of 2005. We will be following this cohort (fish from the 2004 spawn) as they mature through the smolt stage. Next year we will take genetic samples from the age 1+ parr. In the spring 2007 we will take genetic samples from smolts captured in rotary screw traps below Head Tide dam. By the end of the study we hope to have a better idea of what habitat features result in the greatest abundance of parr, how much parr move from their original stocking location as fry, and which areas of the river produce the greatest number of smolts.

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