BY STEPHEN GAMBICKI, ALPENA FWCO
For five years staff from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) has been involved in teaching students about environmental topics that meet their current science curriculum. This school year, Alpena FWCO staff adopted two third grade classes and two fourth grade classes of students at Wilson Elementary School located in Wilson Township Michigan (Alpena public schools).
On February 13th 2014, biologist Steven Gambicki instructed the fourth grade classes about animal adaptations. The fourth graders were shown a PowerPoint presentation explaining different animal adaptations. They were also given a worksheet with pictures of a skunk, whitetail deer, camel, polar bear, elephant and northern pike, and asked to identify adaptations these animals had undergone. The worksheets were then openly discussed in class. Students were asked to name a fictitious animal that Gambicki could draw on the chalkboard. The two names selected by the different classes were blob and dragon. Students were then asked to pick ears, tails, and legs for the fictitious animal. Students laughed at Gambicki’s lack of artistic skill. “By letting the students design the fictitious animal, and by encouraging them to laugh at my drawing, they were very focused in on what I was trying to teach them. I was really able to drive home the point how animals can adapt to a change in their environment,” noted Gambicki.
Alpena’s FWCO staff gives students unique hands on experience, and insights from professionals in the conservation field. Students enjoy the presentations and change of pace from their daily routine. The biologists also enjoy giving the presentations. “It’s great to see the excitement in their eyes when you walk into the classroom. It’s also a great feeling to be told, “You are awesome”, by several students when leaving the classroom” said Gambicki.
BY TIMOTHY FALCONER, PENDILLS CREEK NFH
During August 2013, a group of workers descended upon the Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in order to begin using automated tagging trailers to clip the adipose fins and insert a tiny metallic tag into the snout of our juvenile Lake trout. These Lake trout are destined for locations within Lake Michigan and have codes unique for each area of fish stocking. Later, when the fish is caught, the code can be examined and interesting facts can be determined about where the fish came from, not only which hatchery, but also when and where it was stocked, and the strain of fish.
On February 17, 2014, Tim Falconer of Pendills Creek NFH was checking the fingerling fish in our raceway building for the purpose of verifying the effectiveness of the automated tagging trailers. When the use of these automated trailers was in its infancy, the efficiency was not the greatest, either the tag was not being placed in the fish or the fin was not getting clipped, which signifies to fisherman at a later date that there is something special about that fish, or the fish was not being clipped or tagged at all. Through constant improvements, the percentage of fish that received both the tag and the fin clip has improved and as of this sampling the total percentage of fish that were both tagged and clipped was almost 96%.
The process of checking the fish for Coded Wire Tag retention consists of collecting 100 fish per tag code, anesthetizing the fish, checking visually for the adipose fin to determine if it was clipped or not, and swiping the fish through a machine that detects small changes in the magnetic field. A tagged fish will beep and a red LED will light up on the detector, which is shaped like a box with a wedge cut out of it, allowing the sensors in the sides or wings to detect the magnetic changes due to the tag in the fish’s snout. The fish are then released back into the raceway they came from where they revive from the anesthetic within a few minutes time.