A million fingerling salmon, rescued from almost certain death after the Oroville Dam spillway fell apart last month, began their remarkable journey to the ocean Monday by being launched unceremoniously out of tanker trucks into the Feather River.
The flapping, flopping chinook were poured through pipes into the water at a Yuba City boat ramp, where their trek downstream to the ocean, through a gantlet of predators and environmental perils, started amid cheers from biologists and schoolchildren on a field trip.
The lucky fish are among 2 million spring-run chinook moved from the state-run Feather River Fish Hatchery last month after a gaping hole opened in the main spillway at Oroville Dam and erosion on the emergency spillway sent plumes of suffocating silt into their rearing pens.
Five million salmon in all were moved to 600-foot-long concrete tanks at a hatchery annex downstream, and, surprisingly, almost all survived. The release Monday was the first of several planned over the next month at the hatchery annex, which was built to hold only 2 million fish.
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