Bonneville Dam sturgeon removal_IMG_3060
Bonneville Dam dewaters some of its fishways each winter for maintenance and repairs. The level to which the fishway is dewatered depends on the work to be done; if equipment below the tailwater level needs repair, the ladders are completely drained and we sometimes encounter sturgeon sheltering in the lower areas. These large numbers, however, are a recent and as yet unexplained phenomenon.
This January it required 15-20 biologists, crane operators and riggers almost four days to safely return about 1,700 sturgeon sheltering in the Washington Shore fish ladder entrance to the river. The sturgeon were loaded into a large water tank, hoisted by a crane over the tailrace, and dropped into the water. The tank could not be lowered all the way into the water due to the turbulent discharge from the dam that might have dragged the tank and crane.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of the team, there was no mortality among the stranded fish.