Forty thousand juvenile Chinook salmon, some raised by high school students, entered San Francisco Bay when their holding pens in Tiburon were vandalized this week. Half of the fish were raised from eggs by students of Casa Grande High School in Petaluma and were to be released at the end of the month from their holding pens at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center in Tiburon, said Brooke Halsey, executive director of the Tiburon Salmon Institute, which runs the program.
Sometime between 9 a.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday, vandals cut the zip ties that held the nets in place in the pens, Halsey said. That lowered the nets to the water and the 8- to 12-inch-long fish swam away, she said. There are still 20,000 fish that will be released Oct. 30 in Tiburon at a ceremony that will mark the end of the project, Halsey said.
The loss of the fish particularly affects the senior students who were engaged with the project for the last time, Halsey said. The Tiburon Salmon Institute would love donations for a security system at the Romberg Tiburon Center and a large turnout at the Oct. 30 release event, Halsey said.
She said it is possible that fishermen who wanted to free the small fish to attract larger fish are responsible for the vandalism. There also is speculation an animal right’s group was involved, said Halsey, a former Sonoma County prosecutor. In what is likely an unrelated event, two men might have been trying to break into a building at the Romberg Tiburon Center Tuesday night, Halsey said. Tiburon police detained them in a vehicle and found a crowbar and stolen license plates, she said.
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