Netting fish with intermittent conversation.
Elizabeth Arnold, Bonnie ?
Food web discussion.
Jack Stanford, Elizabeth Arnold
Fish habitat discussion.
Kirill Kuzischin, Misha Kahopolvania (?)
Local person, Misha Kahopolvania (?), talks about his view of conservation. Kirill Kuzischin translates his comments for Elizabeth Arnold.
Dan Plummer, Elizabeth Arnold
Dan Plummer catches a Steelhead trout.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
2 Oct 2002
- Kamchatka Peninsula
- 56.47139 159.42993
Subjects 1, 2, 4, 5 are decoded MS stereo. Spaced omni mics used for Subject 3.
Log of DAT #: 6
Engineer: Michael Schweppe
Date: October 2, 2002
MS continuing the netting of the juveniles.
Well, what do you think?
We seem to be getting maybe the same thing.
Maybe let's try to get some scuds out in the main river. Yeah let's do that.
Ambi: walking in the water
Ambi: Walking on ground, sounds like gravel.
And a partridge in a pear tree. Bonny's casting is off today. It's kind of like my bowling, you know. When you do it once a year.
Your mojo, you couldn't find your mojo.
You couldn't get your mojo cast back.
Do you bowl for fish too?
Somebody stole my mojo.
2.00 In unison
OK, into the rock.
OK, let's go find scudley.
Ambi: walking through water and people talking, hard to understand what they're saying
Scud search in the river
Ambi: splashing of water, people walking in water
Ambi: people moving from water to riverbank. Sounds of feet crunching on gravel/stone.
Last year there were lots of dead salmon in the river.
Jack and Nick agree
Do you think we'd do better with the scuds than some aquatic plants?
Well, we just did a whole bunch and there wasn't a single one.
I don't see many aquatic plants on this net.
Oh, you mean in the main river.
More netting, walking through water
People speaking Russian with each other.
More talking about fish
More Russian speaking
MS talking with scientists about fish
OK, this is a number 3 try for scuds.
The scene is Nick and Kirill hold this net in the stream while Elizabeth and Jack walk up some stream a few feet and stir up some sediment and rock and stuff.
Ambi: river sounds, people talking
Talking about how they found no scuds
Ambi: Pouring water into a bucket
Hey Bonny, in language that some Americans might even understand. What are you trying to find here. What are you hoping to find here.
Studying the food web of the fish and by looking at the stable isotope content of each of the major groups we'll get an idea of where each of the organisms within the food web sits within the trophic structure, that is, who is eating who, who is at the top of the food web, who are the top predators and who is at the bottom of the food web. And by comparing the food webs in the different rivers we hope to get an idea of why some rainbow decide to stay and maintain their resident status while others decide to go to the ocean and become steelhead. So the isotope signatures help us to determine where they are within the food web and then also to trace what food they're eating¿what food the fish are eating by looking at the carbon isotope ratios you can get an idea of whether the rainbow are feeding primarily on catus flies, mayflies, stone flies, some of the aquatic insects, or whether they're eating coho eggs, because the coho eggs will have a different carbon signature than or carbon isotope signature than the food web that's in the river itself. So, using both nitrogen stable isotope ratios N-15 to N-14 and carbon isotope ratios we can get an idea of what they're eating and where they are in the food web.
And this is part of the food web, what's in this jar, and this is part of the food web what's in this bucket.
Hmmhmm. Yeah, these stone flies are kind of top predators within the aquatic insect world down there on the rock surfaces and in the bucket are small organisms that would be eating these stoneflies and the rainbow when they are in the river and their resident would be eating these small fishes and when they're smaller, they'll be eating these stone flies the smaller organisms and we can tell that not only looking at their stomach content but from looking at their stable isotope ratios. And the reason the stable isotope ratios are so good at that is that you get a picture of what they are eating all of the time whereas if you do stomach contents you just get um, an idea of what their transient feed is. You know they might be what the ate yesterday whereas a stable isotope information gives you information one what they've been eating throughout the whole year.
Ok, this is spaced omnis...we had a little accident...check check check. Ok what now.
We're going to go catch you a sangha.
Talking about ¿dogpound¿ sounds of zipper and Velcro in the background. (not usuable)
Ambi: starting up boat
OK, the river here it seems like its really high but in fact its just spreading out into the riparian forest of the floodplain. So the river really won't rise very much more even though the volume will rise. It just spreads laterally, you can see over there the number of backwater environments and how it pitches over into this overflow channel that's flowing into that area that we were sampling down there a while ago. The riparian forest on this river is predominantly these willow trees but you can see the greener leaves of the alder here and there so its alder and willow, and there's a particular understory plant in there that's real abundant as people in size leaves. There's two species of it in Russian it's called salmonocka, if I pronounced that right. It plays the role that calparsnick plays in the rocky mountains. The bears love to eat it at all stages, but particularly when its first coming up its really loaded with protein. That protein is probably derived in part from the green nutrients brought back up by the salmon, so the floodplain soils are enriched by the flooding out onto the little shelves or benches that are above the full pool channel. So, that's what I see here.
Not knowing anything though, I look around and I would say this looks like its just flooding. The water's so high and the trees are in the water, this is what it's supposed to look like. It's supposed to look like this. Every fall we get these low pressure systems coming in and this brings high water to these rivers the steelhead fishermen sometimes can't fish. That makes it difficult for them. But think about this fish also, when there's high water like this they have nothing to obstruct them coming into the river. There's large volumes of water. They can escape the seals in the mouth of the river that are trying to catch them. They can escape the gill nets at the mouth of the river so having high water is extremely important. It puts the little fish out on the floodplain where the can feed on the last bits of summer insects and summer vegetation so all apart of the natural landscape of these Kamchatkan rivers.
Do you think our rivers once looked like this?
Oh yes, every river is different, but there's no question that our rivers had big floodplains that we can't even in many respects visualize today because the water flow of the big rivers is so regulated. If you think about it the Yellowstone and the flathead are the only two river systems left in the western part of the US that are free flowing and those rivers both have big floodplains with large gallery cottonwood forests and willows on the sandbank. So we can see similar processes and similar attributes that we see here in those river systems there's a nice little backwater there full of that's a flood channel that's been filled in gradually and now it's been full of aquatic plants and plenty of room for juveniles to escape the main channel and ¿
Part of the factory.
Yeah, part of the factory.
So this is what it's supposed to look like?
Yeah, this is what it's supposed to look like. Um...and if you visited a ___ at the biological station in Montana and went to our floodplain site there. There's people living on that floodplain and actually farming part of so it is a natural cultural system, but it largely functions exactly like what we're seeing here. There's no regulation of the flow as part of the _____ river system.(prominent boat noise) There's a federal reserve water right that protects and preserves ________ the virgin flow of the river. So there we have a naturally functioning system even though at that particular locality there's some human activity there. There's some grazing, hay farming, a real compatible place for people and natural processes and its critically important there because its this buffer zone between the high country of glacier park, Bob Marshall wilderness and the floodplain river portal so in the winter time the umulets (?) elk in particular can winter there. In the spring bears come out of their hibernation and the first place they go is down to the floodplain because that's the warmest spot in the landscape and it's also the most biodiverse spot in the landscape but it's the place where the earliest plants in the spring are coming up and bears can immediately have some high protein foods to eat because the floodplain is supplying nutrients to the floodplain soil or the rivers flooding is providing nutrients to the floodplain soils. Exactly as you see here. What's missing in our study there is the ______ subsidy from the salmon runs. Never were there of course but makes the comparisons not exactly but _____ when you say this is the way it's supposed to be like this particularly for salmon river ecosystems but here you can see this exposed gravel bar that's been flooded enough scour the vegetation off of it but you see the younger the year of vegetation you get little willows and alders already growing there. So it's a constant battle between the flow of the river and the ability of these willows to establish on freshly scoured surfaces as the river moves around in the landscape. That's the successional process that maintains what we like to call the shifting habitat mosaic that's so absolutely critical to salmon.
And this is such a perfect example of¿
there's a nice little backwater there if you snuck up on that you'd see some of these little sockeye in there feeding. So in this case the river is knocking down the floodplain or the old floodplain bench that actually has flatland areas and transitions to the tundra where the camp is and deposited over here so the trajectory of the river is that was. And if we go to Oblokovona it's a much bigger river, you'd never build a camp there. It'd tear it down the next year. It's a much more dynamic river than this one. It's lost most of its velocity here because we're close to the sea. You can see the really rich floodplain soil there as opposed to the tundra bank upstream. Look how those soils are full of sand and particularly silt from years of deposition from the highest floods. Because the flood spreads out there the only thing you can take out there is the finest particle so the soil is building the richest materials that the river has to give to the floodplain because that's high enough that there's no velocity as the water flows out onto it it's only going to take fine sediments and organic matter out there. So it's building a really rich soil, you can see that those grasses and uh parsley like plants are nearly as high as a man out there.
It's something most Americans don't get that rivers are supposed to by dynamic.
Yeah and that's absolutely true that people, the natural tendency of people is to simplify things and take the unpredictable nature away from it so that everything is the same from year to year and you can count on it and that's just exactly the wrong thing to do if you're going to manage rivers for natural attributes, biodiversity, salmon, native minnows like pike minnow in the Colorado river and so on. There's an interesting thing. That's a piece of tundra that's been washed away from upstream from where you were the other day and its creating an obstruction in the river that also moves the gravel and sand differently and creates more complexity in the river. On the Coro river where we are also establishing some biostations there's a tremendous amount of deposition of large tundra clumps in the river. We actually had to move some of them in order to get the boats through and sort of redefines the large particulate organic matter in the river.
Big chunks of sod.
You can see the understory out here now.
But if we, uh, built this up and grazed right to the edge of it and channel it all in and got rid of those back channels there wouldn't be any fish.
Wouldn't be any fish or at least not nearly as many and you couple that with harvest and there went your river ecosystem. Just like that.
Throw a hatchery in there and you really mess it up.
You try to¿well natural tendency again is to engineer something that will mitigate the lost habitat and for years we focused on this fairy tale of replacing habitat with zoo like engineer habitat which we call hatcheries. And it simply hasn't worked. We have 98 for example are so in the Columbia basin producing a couple hundred million smalts a year and every year particularly in bad ocean years the Columbia river fish runs get worse. We lose more diversity. We lose more of the previously abundant runs and its simply counter productive. It's just not working.
OK to the dog pound.
Ambi: boat gets louder, talking more muffled
Ambi: quieter...sounds like they are inside MS and Bonny talking, hard to understand.
Ambi: More quiet talking
The following is an interview with Mihsa, a local Kamchatkan, and is translated by Kirill. So what is written as K/M means Kirill translating Mihsa.
If you need any other translation, I know a Russian speaking intern from Bulgaria who may be interested in helping. She has experience doing translating professionally. ¿ Sara Hays (RE intern)
Misha, he was born here and he lives the whole year here on this river. And he is a real local and native people.
Misha, what is your last name?
Does he know what the Wild Salmon Center what the scientists and you are working on out here.
Yes in deed.
And what does he think about it?
Everything OK. It's how it must be.
What does that mean, it's how it must be?
No words to explain it.
How about words about the fish. How does he feel about the fish being plentiful and the fish being part of his life?
The first place in his life he's very firmly connected with the fish.
Does he know about poaching?
In the former times he himself was a poacher.
Would he rather be working for the--to save the salmon or to take the salmon?
Of course, it's much better to conserve it forever but sometimes when we have nothing to eat we are catching it. Not here, not in this camp, here we have excellent conditions for life and it's not needed to kill the fish.
And so he is making is employee now from you all.
Yes he's employee.
And saving the fish at the same time.
Yes only some for food only a few.
How does he feel about catch and release that the guys would come?
I don't know what to think.
You know in Alaska people say, people who uh, live off the fish say we don't play with our food. They don't like catch and release.
We are catching because we need something to eat.
But the science, how does he feel about the science that you do?
The abundance, the stock abundance is decreasing and we should figure out what's going on with it.
Has he heard about how we've messed up our rivers in America?
Yes he knows about it. People who were here told about it. It's sad.
OK, not too tough was it?
Interview with Kirill
Your own work, what are you most interested in doing here?
Life history diversity and the linkage of life history diversity within steelhead and geomorphology so I have no any other particular interest because this problem is very very important to understand how fish lives in the environment. It will figure out this linkage between fish biology generally speaking not only life history diversity but morphology, age composition, repetition of spawning with habitats, with habitats where fishes live. It will be a big opening. I don't want to say that it will be a noble award but it's still rather close to it. Nobody knows its still. Many people trying to do it. But here we have this unique chance because everything here is pristine. Fish is pristine, environment is pristine. We can monitor all the processes that are going on in nature. Maybe we will have success.
It's a pretty big task though isn't it.
It's a big task. It's not a task for one year. It's not even a task for short term. It's really serious work that must be done. The work that needs substantial investment. Not only money but brains, people, efforts. All kind of things.
What's most useful for you in terms of what the American scientists bring to this project.
Knowledge, skills, experience. I think any kind of scientific exchange is very productable because we are not enclosed society. The scientists must speak one to another. They must make exchange of ideas, of views. They must hear criticism from their colleagues and so their theories, their guesses must be reviewed by the other scientists. It's some kind of scale on which you are scaling what you are doing. We must speak to one another. We must debate between within our group and with other groups. We must be ready to hear the criticism, the counter-revisions and so on.
You guys are way ahead of us in this science aren't you?
No, I can't say that, anything is way ahead of anybody else. Anybody ahead of other people. As I said before, both countries has lots of ¿not to trade but for exchange. And the experiences of scientists from one country can be implemented into the joint efforts and this is great. I think we are the same level. Maybe we are working in little different conditions or with different approaches to the problem, but nobody can say this is bad, this is good. It's a balance.
How do you feel about the whole eco-tourism part of this. The anglers supporting it?
Yes, I support this idea very much. I think it's great. It's very good way to develop the local economy. It's the opportunity for sustainable using of natural resources without over harvesting of the stocks without obstructing of the mineral deposits and so we are robbing our grandsons, and well, eco-tourism is developing we are conserving all this nature forever and I heard that on Alaska for example eco-tourism can provide about 1 billion of dollars for local economy. It's good money and it can decide¿if it can be so on Kamchatka, it will definitely decide most of problems of the region.
And help you guys do the science.
And, of course, I'm not speaking about it, because it's the basis of the project.
Tell me Mihsa, he lives down river?
Yes he lives down river in this little village at the mouth of the main tributary of the river.
And he's lived there all his life?
Yes, it's his environment.
So is he Koryak?
No he's Ittlemen people. It's maybe the same. It's like different tribes of Indians.
And so I have this on the record where exactly are we? How many miles from the ocean?
We are 35 miles upstream by river and about 10 miles straight to the sea.
And how far up does the Sopochnaya go do you think?
It's uh...the whole length of the river system from the headwaters to the ocean is 250 km. It's about how many 170 miles maybe like this. So we're in the lower part or maybe in the lower part of the middle section of the river. Oh it's how one can say, in the high spot of the lower section.
Now what is your last name?
My last name is Kuzishchin, Kirill Kuzishchin.
You know we're going to have to¿We can't spell that can we?
I can give you my business card.
Yeah, tell me I want to know how you want to be referred to your title, but also this: Do you like to fish?
And for steelhead?
One of the world's best.
Why is that? How can you, for someone whose never caught a steelhead and doesn't know anything¿why is catching steelhead so much fun?
Yes, it's a good question. Perhaps I have the answer on this question. Steelhead is big enough to be excited, to be an exciting object of fishing. Steelhead is hard enough of to get it. So on one hand you have a excellent object, strong healthy fish, which can give you lots of motions, lots of emotions and lots of impression on you when the fish is hooked. On the other hand you must work hard to get it. So it's not as if you are fishing for the carp in the private pond where fish is boiling and what one need is to put the bait in the water and immediately you will set the hook in the mouth of the fish, and its not the way how to get for example one single Chinook in the Columbia river system above the dam. And when you are day-by-day hours and hours making casts and see nothing so it's what one needed and the bite of the fish also always comes as a sudden. You don't know when it will be so each cast can be successful, and that's why it's very very interesting.
What's the best one you ever caught?
Uh, I didn't catch in my life huge outstanding specimens.
But I mean for fun, for you what was the best?
I fished for many species and as for steelhead I think the best one was the first one?
How many minutes?
Hah! See you know. And you were saying the other night that sometimes the hook because of what you know about their mouth there's less places for it to hook in.
Yes, very few. I think people who named steelhead, as steelhead is right. The head of fish is really made from steel and lead. And only few places in the mouth of the fish where you can probably set your hook and that's why so many we have hookings up but lost fish.
How were the last couple of days for you in terms of science. Have you got the things you need.
Yes. Yes, we sampled a lot of material, lots of samples, and we are making very good progress in scientific sampling. We had big fish, small fish, juveniles, adults. We caught rainbows. So, I am very happy with scientific sampling.
And then you spend all winter looking at it all?
Of course. Laughs. And I will.
All right. Thank you.
Talk about catching more fish
Ambi: Boat sounds and talking
Dan Plummer catches steelhead, want to go out and record it.
Ambi: splashing in water
Whoah....can you believe this? The sun is perfect. You know Steve you really warm up when you catch a few of these.
Someone makes grunting sound
Oh my God. This thing is gigantic. Oh yeah, look at that thing. Watch your fingers keep your fingers out of the water this could eat you?
Want some help landing him?
Well yeah, that'd be good.
Ok let's lead him into the shore over here Dan.
All right. It seems to be a little bit tired.
Ambi: sounds of people walking in water.
Hoops and hollers about the fish.
We should bring him in and tag him and measure him and then let him go.
More ooing and awing over fish
Boy she took that fly right in the roof of the mouth. What fly was that?
That was the uh, I tied that late one night while drinking some vodka at the table. I think it's called the Victor Mashenke fly.
That's about a 33 inch 32 inch fish.
Ok now shall we go through the motions of tagging him?
Remember make it look big. Push it into the camera.
Ok, lets put her back in the water. Let me measure her real quick. My guess is 31 inches.
Measuring fish, tagging fish. Decide to kill the fish because she is already dying.
Did you just hook that as soon as we came around the corner, I mean what's the deal Dan?
I was probably fighting it for at least five minutes before you guys got here.
MS: Good timing
We'll ask, we'll get the complete report from Victor.
Arranging for picture to be taken of fish.
So, how do you feel Dan? Is your heart palpitating?
With my hands baby. And sometimes they beg for more.
So this is the good time to ask Dan the hard questions huh?
Well the hard question was is what was great. How did it feel Dan?
Just unbelievable. It's like a million casts you know rain, no beer, no vodka.
Well how many days have you been out here Dan?
Well, this is the fourth day, 400th cast, and it's just all of the sudden one minute there it is.
When did you know?
Well, Guido was telling me earlier one thing to try to do, if you feel and that's exactly what happened. I felt a little bump and just kind of a pull like that and I instinctively wanted to set the hook and Guido said don't because they'll usually nail it a second time and that's the hard one. So I just let it go a little bit and I felt the weight and set the hook and the ffff across the river. (EA: Really?) Yeah it was excellent.
Did it do a zing? ZZZ?
That real was singing. When I heard the boat coming it was my duty to really take time and make sure you guys were here to see it.
Continued talking, water sounds until until 1.23.22
Sounds of helicopter approaching
END OF DAT