I remember fishing the outlet of Sheepscot Lake when I was young. Far down the outlet, near the hatchery, there were locations where you could see salmon resting in pools.

The beautiful salmon had lamprey eels attached to them. The eels had been allowed to pass by the hatchery gates and had nothing better to do than slowly suck the life out of the salmon. The eels, I thought, must have told the salmon that they were looking out for them and were representing their best interests.

There was a hatchery worker who took his work seriously and would go to the outlet on weekends trying to separate the lampreys from the fish. The lampreys were very slippery and elusive. It was like they never had to work for a living; like they had a trust fund.

The man put bands on the lampreys, which essentially cut off their intake of nutrients from the salmon. The lampreys were suffering and extremely agitated, but were not going to let go, even if it meant that they would perish along with the fish. The eels, it seemed, liked the lifestyle they had created by living off the fish and wanted it to continue even knowing that it was not “sustainable.”

The worker was frustrated that the eels would not let go and resorted to squeezing and ripping the eels from the flesh of salmon. The fish were confused and suffering.

I can remember him swearing a blue streak because he cared so much and was passionate about his mission. He looked up onto the banks of the stream and apologized for his incredibly poor choice of words. He was sincerely embarrassed, but I realized he cared and I continued to support his efforts.

David McIntosh


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