More specifically, where did YOUR salmon eggs come from? How did they come to be inside a red plastic Solo cup filled with 250 of their brothers and sisters?
All our eggs come from Lewis River Hatchery. Our eggs were spawned, picked, sorted, and shocked between October and January, and collected from Lewis River Hatchery on January 15th. See the orange tag that says "14,500 Schools"? That's our tray!
Here's our tray... next to 192 other trays. That's a lot of eggs! See our orange tag on the right?
And this is what 14,500 eggs look like! This is our tray, once we took it off the shelf.
Our eggs have already been "picked." Picking eggs means removing dead, "blank," or weak eggs. Sometimes this is done by hand, with a turkey baster. But when you have to sort through over a million eggs, it's nice to have some help! This is the machine they use to pick eggs. Eggs are placed inside, and a sensor identifies and removes any bad eggs.
This is Danny at the Lewis River Hatchery, looking for any dead (opaque) or "blank" eggs (didn't get fertilized), or any eggs with "arrested development" (embryo grows slowly and may not hatch) that didn't get picked out.
She found one dead egg and one with arrested development to show me what they're looking for when they pick eggs.
Blank eggs would have normal colors but no eyes inside. You can tell which eggs have arrested development by looking at their eyes. These eggs will have tiny eyes compared to regular eggs, and hatchery workers call them "baby eyes."
Can you tell which egg has arrested development?
Here's Danny and Angie doing the calculation to determine the weight that should be in each stocking for school deliveries.
Now it's time for scooping, weighing, and pouring the eggs into nylon stockings for each of our 50+ schools.
The stockings were hung in the egg tank with care, back at Columbia Springs, until each teacher picked them up at one of 3 meet-up spots.
Eggs are transported in a regular cooler, between layers of damp burlap. People are always amazed when they discover the eggs are not transported in water! Eggs can get enough oxygen from the air to survive short trips in the car. If we filled the cup with water, the eggs would quickly use ALL the dissolved oxygen in the water and die. It's a little counter-intuitive, but it works! All the eggs made it safely to their new homes.