Kori Roberts has a seasonal job that might sound like a horror movie script. She collects heads in Noyo Harbor for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, going to commercial and private boats to saw them off, bag them and carry them away in a cooler.

The DFW sends the king salmon heads to a laboratory in Santa Rosa to study them, so that migratory behavior of the big pink fish can better be understood. She takes only the heads of those with adipose fins cut off.

California’s hatcheries cut the adipose fin off of one quarter of the fish that leave for the ocean. Those clipped fish also have coded pieces of wire inside the head that tell their exact point of origin. Don’t look for the wire, it’s microscopic- one millimeter long, said Jennifer Simon, environmental scientist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ocean Salmon Project. Each tiny tag contains a binary code that identifies a specific release group of salmon including species, run, brood year, hatchery or wild stock, release size, release date and release location.

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