On Wednesday, March 13th our 4th graders released the salmon that we raised since they were eggs. It was an exciting day and a great opportunity to learn more about hatcheries and the process of helping salmon populations grow in the Pacific Northwest. Check out what went on that day!
The 4th graders on their way to Drano Lake in Washington state. Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we were able to ride in style with charter buses.
Once at Drano Lake, Mr. Sean talked to us about why we want to release the salmon at this spot. Just down the road is the hatchery that our salmon eggs came from. By releasing them in Drano Lake the salmon fry will become familiar with the waters and hopefully find their way back here 3-4 years from now to spawn.
The USFW folks scooped out 2-3 fry out for every student to release in to the water. We carried them all the way out here in a bucket!
It was really interesting to find salmon bones on the edge of the lake. We think they might have been left by a bald eagle or other animal that ate one of the adult salmon that came back to spawn last fall.
Once we released all the fry into Drano Lake we drove a mile down the road to the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery. We were given a tour of the facility, saw the fish ladder, and learned about the process of rasing hatchery salmon.
These tanks hold thousands of small salmon fry in the spring while they grow, just like the ones we raised in our school aquarium. Can you spot the fry?
Hatchery employees feed all the fish daily as they grow waiting to be released. Students got to do the feeding this time!
In the spring it is also time to clip the adipose fin on the salmon. This is the way to identify if it is a hatchery fish or a wild salmon. Fishermen are only allowed to keep hatchery salmon. The salmon do not need their adipose fin and it does not hurt them to have this clipped off. There are big machines that do the clipping but sometimes a fish misses the machine so a person cuts it by hand with scissors.
This is the fish ladder that adult salmon climb to get back to the hatchery in the fall. Once they make it all the way up the ladder they will rest in the same tanks where they were baby fry until it is time for spawning.
Thank you U.S. Fish and Wildlife for making this experience possible!