Joseph O’Neil in Vladivostok

Joseph O’Neil in Vladivostok

The last week of March was unexpectedly warm and sunny, after all these heavy snows. Vladivostok warmly welcomed a guest from the US state of Oregon, senior technician and outreach coordinator of the Oregon Hatchery Research Center (OHRC) Joseph O’Neil.

The OHRC is located in the Alsea River Basin, 13 miles from the nearest town. Its goal is to answer scientific questions related to fish recovery and hatchery programs, including the differences that may exist between wild and hatchery fish, and how to better manage these differences. The center has tanks and raceways imitating those at actual hatcheries, as well as four simulated streams of different types, where one can study fish under nearly natural conditions. Researchers from the USA and abroad come to the OHRC, set up their equipment, instruct local specialists on the schedules of their experiments and may just leave. The three staff members of the center are quite good at conducting any scientific experiment.

Joseph’s visit was organized by members of the Research and Education and External Affairs Departments of the Primorsky Aquarium, and the itinerary was rather tight. It included meetings with specialists of the Primorsky Aquarium, Primorsky Fisheries and Fish Resources Management Department (Primorrybvod), students and professors of the Far Eastern Federal University, as well as reports at the Phoenix Fund seminar for teachers conducting informal environmental education programs, and at the conference of kids’ research projects organized by the Biology and Soil Research Institute for primary and high-school students and school teachers. Joseph also made a day trip to Khasansky District, to the south of Vladivostok, where he visited a local hatchery and a library, where, together with local kids, he watched an interactive Salmon Boy performance of the Primorsky Aquarium Education Department. At the meetings with scientists, university students and hatchery technicians Joseph told about the OHRC research and about raising salmons at hatcheries. After those, sometimes on the same day, he switched to his educational alter-ego and told about lessons and workshops on fish biology and ecology and quests over the OHRC and the Alsea River and about the Fall Creek Festival, an annual cultural event for the local community taking place during autumn salmon run.

Joseph is over 60, but he doesn’t look his age. He is in good physical shape, bright, cheerful, and joking. He thinks he has the best job in the world and his eyes are sparkling. We, educators from the Primorsky Aquarium, also think we have the best job in the world. Us and Joseph, we like each other, we are alike, and we are very glad that life gave us an excellent opportunity to meet and enjoy each other’s company. We think similarly. No matter what countries we live in.

The visit of Joseph O’Neil was financially supported by the US-Russia Partnership Program.