CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two fisheries students from the renowned Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia will spend several days in Oregon this month studying salmon – a common, yet troubled natural resource shared by the two regions.
Alexander Tunkeev and Ekaterina Alexeeva, both undergraduate students at Kamchatka State Technical University, will collaborate with scientists at Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Wild Salmon Center in Portland during their visit. Much of their time will be spent at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in the Alsea River basin, a cooperative research facility operated by OSU and ODFW.
The visit was facilitated by the Wild Salmon Center in Portland as part of its efforts to foster international communication about salmon and natural resource issues.
“The Kamchatka region is renowned for its abundant salmon runs and pristine rivers, which increasingly are being threatened by oil and gas development and poaching,” said Daniel Nelson, the Russia Program assistant with the center. “In many ways, Oregon is trying to recover its river systems and become more like Kamchatka, while at the same time Kamchatka is facing issues that threaten its river systems and resources.”
The students arrived this week at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center, where they will spend a week-and-a-half immersing themselves in research activities and learning about differences between hatchery and wild salmon, their relationships with each other and with other native fishes.
David Noakes, an OSU professor and science director for the center, said the learning that takes place will be mutual.
“We can both learn how to best manage increasing demands on natural resources – including wild and hatchery salmon – from development, tourism and changes in habitat,” said Noakes, an internationally recognized fisheries biologist. “We can show them how they might learn from our experiences with habitat loss and other issues, and we certainly can learn from them since they still have significant populations of wild salmon in their rivers.”
The Russian students will participate in some of the center’s sophisticated research activities, including studies focusing on:
- The use of stable isotopes to determine how long fish have been in the rivers and what their diets have been;
- Monitoring of fish health and biological measurement techniques;
- Ways to tag juvenile salmon so they will retain those tags, providing data for migration studies;
- New techniques in hatchery management, including tank and raceway design, water flow and other infrastructure developments;
- The use of woody debris in habitat restoration.
“Since the Oregon Hatchery Research Center opened in 2005, it has been a focal point not only for collaborative fisheries research among numerous state and federal agencies, but it has become a hub for education and outreach activities as well,” said Joseph O’Neil, of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who coordinates outreach activities for the center.
“This adds an international dimension to what we’re doing,” he added.