This week is mission critical for the fulfillment of a yearlong process to spawn our magnificent and endangered pallid sturgeon. Lead biologist Jaime Pacheco collected five male pallids last week from Blind Pony State Fish Hatchery to be used as possible sperm donors. Only four were found to be viable. These males were injected with hormone at 8 a.m. last Monday to induce sperm production. The sperm was extracted Tuesday by using a syringed tube inserted into a vent of the sturgeon. Motility testing was done by placing a drop of sperm onto a microscope slide and adding a single drop of water which activates the sperm for 20 seconds and 20 seconds only. So in a natural setting, a female sturgeon releases some 15-30,000 eggs and the male has only a 20-second window of opportunity to release sperm over the eggs for fertilization.
Female pallids only reproduce once every other year if at all, lending to their endangered status.
In our controlled setting, the sperm is collected, tested, oxygenated and refrigerated several days prior to spawning to allow for uninterrupted focus at the most critical time on the females and the release of their eggs. The males and females have previously been tested and studied by our geneticist, Mr. Ed Hiess from Southern Illinois University. Only those found to be most distantly related can be paired. Our two females were injected with hormone at 6 a.m. Tuesday, again at 6 p.m. At the writing of this article, the end results are unknown. So we wait … in anticipation, hopeful of a successful and happy ending which I will post in next week's article.
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Tours for the past week include Granby kindergarten, Noel third graders, and Pierce City, Fairland, Okla., and Southwest City third graders. Long distance visitors of the week are Michael, Cecilia, and Joseph Raulston from Omaha, Neb. Local visitors of the week are Nathan and Allie Standlee of Neosho.
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Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery will be meeting May 17 and will be given an official tour of the hatchery following the meeting.
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Janice Eaton is the automation clerk at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.