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Assisting salmon

Third-graders from Quatama Elementary School participated in the cycle of life Saturday when they released hundreds of salmon fry into the Tualatin River as part of a class project.

Students used Dixie cups to transfer a few fish at a time into the water at Tualatin Community Park. The salmon will migrate downstream to the Willamette and Columbia rivers before eventually heading out to the ocean. Adult salmon that survive a few years of ocean life will return to the Tualatin River to spawn.

“This is probably the most engaging activity I’ve had in a long time,” said third-grade teacher Sharon Angal. “We had the eggs in class for about a month and needed to release them back into the wild. We put them out to begin the next phase of their journey.”

The classroom project was part of a learning program associated with the Oregon Zoo, which developed curriculum for students to study salmon. The zoo connection provided field trips to a park in Estacada and the Tillamook Forest Center for activities related to salmon habitat. by: COURTESY PHOTO - Third-grade students from Quatama Elementary School released hundreds of salmon fry into the Tualatin River Dec. 7 in a project developed by the Oregon Zoo.

The Oregon Fish & Wildlife Department provided students with about 500 salmon eggs and gave directions on when to release the hatchlings.

“This fits in with our new ‘Common Core’ standards and is a good fit for us at this age level,” Angal said. “The students were really invested in their eggs and gave every one of them a name.”

Quatama students used fish tanks to hatch the eggs, using a water chiller to keep the water temperature at a constant 54 degrees. Students tested the water for proper pH and oxygen levels during the incubation period.

Angal said the most exciting part of the activity was to see the eggs hatch into alevin, the term for newly hatched salmon and trout still carrying their yolk. The students watched for several days as the eggs spawned new fish.

“When are you ever at a river where you can see that?” Angal said. “We just had to have patience and rely on nature to run its course. It’s a good lesson to learn.”



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