Written by Jenna Zemrak
Back in February, two hundred Atlantic salmon eggs arrived at Belgrade Central School. Small, round, salmon-colored blobs sat in the bottom of a thermos and 30 second- graders were amazed at what they saw. The Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation sponsors this school-based program in order to help the Atlantic Salmon population, which is endangered and only found in the wild in our Maine rivers.
The program includes hosting a tank of Atlantic Salmon eggs to learn about life cycles and this important part of Maine’s environment. From February until early June, students check on these salmon eggs and begin raising water temperatures to further develop the life cycle. We never thought that COVID-19 would interrupt this work and not allow the students to complete the weekly tasks and lessons.
During school closure, Miss Zemrak took weekly trips into BCS to check and report back updates to the students. She designed a slideshow that students could view each week to see the latest updates with photos and videos. Even the storm in March that knocked out power to the school was an interesting turn of events that needed to be troubleshot. If the water goes up in temperature, the eggs would hatch prematurely and alter the development. Luckily some frozen water jugs were able to keep the temperature pretty stable and the eggs survived just fine.
As the weeks went on, the eggs became ALEVIN eating from the yolk sac, and eventually developed into FRY, they were finally ready to go back into the wild. The Atlantic Salmon “fry” were released into Bond Brook in Augusta on June 1st. Luckily we were able to invite families to meet us there and students got to help release them into their new home.
More information about the Fish Friends program, sponsorship, and other communities involved, can be found at fishfriends.me
The Slideshow can be viewed here.