Our Salmon Project began at the end of last school year when we received a grant from the Fulcrum Foundation which provided the funds needed to purchase a 60 gallon tank and all the equipment needed to successfully launch a salmon research and release program for our students.
In January 2017, we picked up 150 chum salmon eggs from the Tulalip Fish Hatchery and our project officially began. The eggs were immediately placed into a 60 gallon tank in our middle school Science lab where they were expected to hatch within a week, and so they did!
The excitement within our student body was bubbling over! Students from all grades were quick to make the journey to the salmon tank and watch our salmon hatch and begin to swim around. They learned right away that the baby salmon or Alevin fed off their yolk-sac for several weeks and that is why it looked like the yolk-sac was still attached to their bellies. As the yolk-sac began to disappear, it was time to check and see if they were “zipped up”. This involves picking up a fish and turning them over to see if the yolk-sac had been completely absorbed. Once “zipped up” our fish moved into the fry stage and we began to feed them.
With our release scheduled for April 13th, 7th grade students began to learn all about the life cycle and the importance of salmon in Washington State history. We had a great class discussion on the obstacles (natural and man-made) that impact the ability of salmon to return to their natal stream to spawn.
Students expanded their vocabulary with words such as smoltification, estuary, milt, spawning, redd, and homing instinct, to name a few. We wrapped up our study with ideas of how we can help preserve the habitat of the wild salmon and what role hatcheries play in this restoration process.
This was truly an amazing project! Now that we have the tank equipment needed and a solid partnership with the Tulalip Hatchery, we will continue this research study each year at St. Mary Magdalen School.
A BIG shout out to The Fulcrum Foundation & Tulalip Fish Hatchery