Thousands of juvenile trout spectacularly descended from airborne planes into Utah lakes on July 9.
Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources has caught on camera the moment a cargo-load of live fish landed in a remote lake.
The footage, which has since gone viral, shows a small plane flying over a forest. Suddenly thousands of small fish blast out of the aircraft’s undercarriage in slow-motion for about 11 seconds. The aquaculture stock then skydives into their new habitat down below.
The department confirmed the delivery is part of its annual replenishment program, which sends thousands of one-year-old “fingerling” fish to remote places that practically can only be accessed by air.
Each flight carries up to 35,000 fingerlings stored in many gallons of water. The cargo is dropped into a total of more than 200 lakes.
“The airplane holds hundreds of pounds of water and can drop 35,000 fish in a single flight without reloading,” the department said on Facebook.
Once they reached the destination, pilots fly at a safe altitude to disperse the fish at a height “above the trees.”
“Fish are between one and three inches long, so they flutter down slowly to the water,” the department said.
The department describes aerial fish stocking as an effective method in Utah, with a history dating back to the mid-1950s. Post-stocking netting surveys show the survival rate of aerial-stocked fish is between 95 and 99 percent.
“The air slows their drop and they fall a bit like leaves [and] the slower fall allows the fish to survive,” the department said according to Fox 13 News. “If the fish were larger, the survival rate would not be as high.”
This week the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked fish by air. The DWR stocked 200 high-elevation in southern Utah with fish between 1 to 3 inches long. Aerial stock fishing has been done since the 1950s. pic.twitter.com/wGjJoeA5en— KSL NewsRadio (@kslnewsradio) July 10, 2021
Bred fish can typically be stocked for sport for two years according to the Daily Mail. But they additionally can be delivered to lakes with poor natural reproduction due to low water levels and warmer temperatures.
Newsweek revealed the fingerlings are acclimatized, counted, and weighed before being transported to the lakes. This ensures the right amount and species are dropped into each water body.
Fingerlings are generally sterilized to avoid disturbing native fish populations.