Millions of new lives

July 11, 2014

For three years already Gazprom Dobycha Shelf Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has been following a tradition of regularly releasing salmon fingerlings into the Sea of Okhotsk – in order to preserve the ecosystem while carrying out offshore operations and surveys. Over 25 million small fish have been released into the rivers of Sakhalin during these years.

As part of Gazprom’s Year of Environmental Awareness, Gazprom Dobycha Shelf Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk set out another lot of over eight million fingerlings into the Sakhalin waters last week, and this is what our photo essay is about.

The road to the Ado-Tymovsk Salmon Fish-Breeding Plant, the starting point of our journey, begins from the Tymovsk railway station. The plant is 40 kilometers away from the station.

Occasionally, the asphalt road turns into a potholed track impassable for an ordinary car, and only a huge Ural truck can take this road in rainy weather.

The initial point, where fish breeding starts, is called a ‘weaning unit’ – a place, where fish eggs are collected. Later, the fertilized eggs are delivered to the plant, weighed and placed in special incubators.

Then, the incubators are closed with light-protective lids; even all the windows in a room are draped – this is how natural habitat for the future fry is replicated.

At first, green eggs are very fragile: they mustn’t be handled. Every day the eggs temperature is taken – it is necessary for assessing the age of eggs, which is measured in the so-called degree-days. Daily temperature is summed up, and once it reaches 220 degree-days, eggs are examined. The dead ones are taken out, either manually or using a special device.

The ‘grown-up’ eggs are moved to the hatchery: in the wild they lie down in water, buried in sand and pebbles; so a special perforated pipe network with nutrient substratum is created for the breeding environment – long perforated pipes meshed with each other to shape a mattress. The hatchery’s whole bed is covered with such small ‘mattresses’. When the time comes for an embryo to hatch out, at first it tears the membrane with its tail and then emerges itself. A fry gets into a perforated pipe and develops there for about five more months.

Some oversized fingerlings are kept in a nursery pond. Later the fingerlings are released from the nursery pond into the Tym River via the Blagodatny Creek.

We came to the Ado-Tymovsk Plant together with the committee made up of the representatives from Sakhalinrybvod Federal State Unitary Enterprise and the Sakhalin Region Federal Fishery Agency. The Chief Fish Breeder of the plant as well as the veterinarian and lab technician checked fingerlings and made sure the fish had grown to the required size and weight.

In the picture – Lyudmila Shadrina, employee of Sakhalinrybvod sizes up a fingerling.

The check-up has shown that everything’s fine. The committee gives the green light, and now in the course of several nights over a million fingerlings will be released into the Tym River. They are deliberately set out in the dark, so that fewer of them could be eaten by predatory fish (for example, rudds) or birds.

Now we are heading for the Buyukly Fish-Breeding Plant, where four million fingerlings of Gazprom Dobycha Shelf Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk are bred. In order to get to the fish plant, we travel several stations by train.

These fish were bred following the same technology as in the previous plant. The committee, featuring Olga Bezzubkina, Lead Engineer of the Environmental Protection Division of Gazprom Dobycha Shelf Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Oksana Selikhova, Chief Fish Breeder of the Buyukly Salmon-Breeding Plant, once again check whether it is time to release salmon fingerlings into the wild.

The committee’s verdict: the fingerlings reached the necessary size a week ago to be released safely…

…that’s why the fingerlings are ready to step into the ‘adult world’: to the Buyuklinka River, the Poronay River basin, and from there – to the Sea of Okhotsk.

Maria Svetlichnaya, Anton Zaglyadimov (Gazprom Dobycha Shelf Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Gazprom website Editorial Board

You can find large size images in Photos.