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27,000 salmon released into St Mary's river

Fisheries Student Salmon Raceway_.jpg
Lake Superior State University
Courtesy Photo
An LSSU student places salmon onto a raceway.

Twenty-seven thousand Atlantic salmon was released from a spawning hatchery into the St. Mary’s River at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

The release is in honor of Martin Vanderpleog for giving a million dollars to Lake Superior State University’s Center for Freshwater Research and Education.

Scott Smith, vice president of advancement at LSSU, said Vanderpleog values the hatchery and the fish.

"He’s a fan of the Atlantic salmon, and they’re great fighting fish,," "We call them real tail-walkers ‘cause often times when you hook one, they get out of the water and do that fish wiggling pose that fighting fish do when they’re on top of the water."

Scott Smith is the vice president of advancement at LSSU. He said it’s the seventh time a release has been conducted in someone’s honor.

He said watching the salmon get released into the water is a sight to behold.

“There is a plug. They pull the plug out, and gravity takes over. The atlantics, their survival instinct kicks in," he said. "They don’t wanna go down that hole, so they just start swimming the other way. So they are gently, caringly, groomed down.”

Smith said the Vanderpleog donation will go towards research and education about Atlantic salmon, and an endowed position in the faculty.

The release will be livestreamed at @lssu_cfre on Instagram.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.