The 6,000 coho salmon smolts, the fish equivalent of teenagers, were pulled from a 6-inch PVC pipe from their hatchery directly into Big Creek near Santa Cruz on Friday morning. Once in the water, they instinctively knew how to make their way to the larger Scott Creek and to the Pacific Ocean, where they were due to arrive within days.
“These fish have never been in the wild. They’ve been in a fiberglass tank, ”said Mathers Rowley, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project, which helped liberate the organization. Kingfisher Flat Hatchery. “When they touch the water, they know what to do. It’s something in their genetic memory.