Beech Hill School Salmon Project
On February 3, 2003, the Beech Hill School in Otis, Maine received their Atlantic salmon eggs from Mr. Peter Steenstra of the Maine Fishery Resource Office at the Maine Fisheries Complex in Orland, Maine. The Green Lake National Fish Hatchery is a sister hatchery to the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery housed at the Maine Fisheries Complex and located only a few miles from the school. Mr. Steenstra gave the class an overview of the lifespan of the Atlantic salmon, shared a video of salmon in the wild and took questions from the students.
Then…the moment they were waiting for: he helped them to place their eggs in their habitat. The students had prepared the 10 gallon aquarium filling it with water from the Green Lake Hatchery, circulating and aerating it. They checked the temperature of the water before placing their eggs in the habitat to be sure the eggs would not be placed in water that was cooler or warmer than that they’d lived in.
Here are some of the questions the students asked of Mr. Steenstra and his answers:
Why do the eggs need special water?
The eggs are delicate and susceptible to disease, by providing them with the same water they have been incubating in at the Hatchery there is a greater chance they will survive the transition to the school habitat, hatch and grow to fry.
Where will the fish go when they are grown?
The eggs that were received by the Beech Hill School will be released as fry into the West Branch of the Union River. When eggs are spawned the broodstock's natal rivers are carefully noted so that the fry or smolts are released into the same river that their parents came from – this helps to maintain the genetics of the salmon.
Why are Atlantic salmon endangered?
Many,many reasons. Some of the reasons correctly listed by the students were: effects of dams, predation on salmon population, pollution, over-fishing in their winter waters.
Images of Beech Hill School Atlantic Salmon
This is the aquarium that the eggs will be living in as they grow and hatch. At the top is a special screen hanging on the side of the aquarium, the eggs will rest in the screen with water flowing under, over and around them. At the bottom of the aquarium is an aerator to supply the salmon with the oxygen they need to survive.
These are our eggs. We predict that they will hatch in late April but right now they are just developing their eyes.
In our classroom, Mrs. Gaston uses the Atlantic Salmon Federations Fish Friends Curriculum to teach us about the lifespan of the salmon here are some posters showing how salmon develop. We’ll raise our eggs through the alevin and fry phases and then release them into the river.