On February 27, Searsport Elementary, Drinkwater School, and Troy Howard Middle School each received 200 Atlantic salmon eggs to watch over and incubate in the classrooms of Allison Woods, Anna Wood-Cox, and Linda Davis. Their students will observe the development into baby salmon (fry).
Tasks for the students involve cleaning any dead eggs or debris from the tank, and keeping an eye on the chiller’s temperature. The chiller holding the eggs must remain at 35 degrees to maintain enough dissolved oxygen. Then by April 1 the temperature in the chiller will begin to be increased gradually to 51 degrees by April 30, for proper development of the fry. This temperature regime will also allow the fry to be ready to feed when released. At release time, Wescot Stream should have plenty of food available for the salmon fry.
Salmon biology and ecology will be springboards to multiple science lessons and enhance motivation to learn. The teachers are tailoring learning whenever possible to this popular and well-loved activity. Release day involves hands-on learning in salmon habitat.
The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition purchased the Drinkwater School chiller to maintain proper temperatures, and Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery has provided the salmon eggs for the schools. Teachers have purchased and borrowed the rest of the equipment. Now a total of five participating schools are releasing fry to Belfast Bay Watershed. The schools are: Troy Howard Middle School, and Drinkwater, Searsport, Camden-Rockport, and Lincolnville Elementary Schools.
Through a lengthy permitting process, BBWC secured permission to release salmon fry into the watershed a year ago, when two schools participated. Expanding the number of schools increases the odds of salmon fry growing to maturity and migrating back into the watershed to lay eggs. Atlantic salmon will have a better chance of surviving if other fish are also restored and repopulated, such as alewives, herring, sturgeon, shad, and brook trout. BBWC is working on several strategies for restoration. The more the ecological system can be restored to natural, the more these dwindling or lost species will survive and repopulate.
Photo caption: Anna Wood-Cox’s Drinkwater School fifth graders take delivery of 200 salmon eggs from Tom King of BBWC. Debbie Mitchell photo.