Students in the Quesnel area will get up close and personal with one of B.C.’s icons this winter.
Chinook salmon eggs are being delivered to classrooms, where students will watch them develop from fry into fish over the course of the winter and then be released into local waterways next June.
Amanda Dreager is the education co-ordinator at the Baker Creek Enhancement Society.
“We want students to grow up to be stewards of a healthy environment, stewards of salmon,” she said. “We want people to grow up to be conscious of their local environment and taking care of it.”
The eggs are available to teachers through the Stream to Sea program. Classrooms receive a tank, 20 fertilized eggs and the equipment necessary to raise fish.
Included with the tank is a filter, oxygen bubbler and chilling unit. Water is kept at 4 C over the winter.
“In nature, salmon would have spawned already, and the eggs hatch under the ice over the winter months,” Dreager said. “We’re simulating that by keeping tanks really cold over the winter months, and once the spring comes, we raise the temperature slowly to 10 degrees to simulate the springtime, and that helps with their growth and development because their growth is directly related to their exposure to heat.”
The gravel inside the tanks isn’t just store-bought either.
“In nature, salmon lay eggs in what’s called a redd, and that is a cluster of rocks or gravel,” said Dreager. “In their aquarium, we put rocks to simulate the gravel water of the stream. It’s actually rocks that we’ve collected from the area.”
One of the most important factors of starting an aquarium is the bacterial contents of the tank. That’s why the tanks are prepared by society staff before being delivered to schools.
“We get the tanks up and running for a week before the salmon go into the tank to try and build up that natural bacteria,” Dreager said.
The salmon raised by students will be released into Baker Creek next June.
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