Over the past 23 years, Grade 2 students at GNS have raised Goldstream River salmon, with the purpose of releasing them back into the river. This past November, the current Grade 2 students went to Goldstream River to watch the salmon spawning in person. Most salmon start their life cycle in a rocky spawning nest, called a redd, with thousands of other eggs. The Federal Government created this program where students raise salmon in their classrooms to help them learn about their life cycle, their importance to the balance of nature and their significance in First Nations culture. Salmon are integral to the whole west coast ecosystem.
Eggs couldn’t be taken from the river to hatch in an incubator, so Grade 2 students went to the Goldstream Hatchery to create the fertilized eggs for their project. The hatchery staff took care of the fertilized eggs until late January when they brought them to the classroom aquarium incubator.
For the next 100 days, the students studied and took care of the developing salmon as they went through their metamorphic life cycle, from egg to alevin (a tiny salmon with a big yolk sac on its belly), until finally, they became fry.
Last Thursday, Ms. Durovick and Ms. Newman—unfortunately, without their students—took 194 chum salmon fry out to Goldstream River to be born to the wild, where they belong. The students couldn’t be present, but with the help of technology, they were able to experience this magical experience virtually!
The students were able to say goodbye to the salmon, as they wrote farewell letters and made observations about their new fish friends.
“The Fry have grown. The yolk sack is gone. They need food. They have developed defence mechanisms. They are not sensitive to light,” explained Brooklyn.
“Dear Salmon Fry, I wish you good luck in the world. I hope that you survive in the wilderness. Watch Out for bears when you get older. Thank you for teaching me that you are metamorphic. I love that you get a changing lifecycle. You also taught me that you are cute. I’m still wondering if you made a friend… Goodbye and Goodluck!” Miranda wrote.
Our students should be very proud of their stewardship in the classroom and the contribution they made toward protecting the very precious salmon populations. The First Nations have a wonderful phrase: Wy kan ush pum “We are all salmon people.” Our Grade 2 students know and believe this!
Throughout this process, the Grade 2 learners were guided by certain IB PYP lines of inquiry, including:
- why people make choices that impact animals
- the interconnectedness of animals’ life cycles
- using scientific knowledge to make responsible and sustainable choices for animals