Class releases salmon
MANISTIQUE – The fourth grade class at Emerald Elementary recently released their salmon fingerlings into Manistique River. The release is part of the “Salmon in the Classroom” program in the classroom of teacher Gary Lindstrom.
According to Lindstrom, the number of fish released into the lake totaled 58, but could vary, since they were difficult to count. This number was down from early in the year, due to Early Mortality Syndrome, he said, but the student’s enjoyed their time tending to the remaining salmon.
“Salmon in the Classroom is an exciting program that teaches students about our state’s freshwater resources through interactive, hands-on learning,” explained Lindstrom. “This instrumental learning experience allows students the opportunity to raise, care for and maintain the salmon in their classroom from fall until spring … For many students, participation in the program provides a truly motivational experience. To watch life unfold before their eyes, to guide the growth and health of developing fish, and later release those fish into a natural, quality habitat can be a life changing experience for some.”
The fish were deposited into the Manistique River, via the marina, on May 21. According to Lindstrom, the program was a success, due, in part, to the Schoolcraft County Sportfishing Association and Thompson Fish Hatchery Biologist Randy Espinoza.
“After personally donating the 100 gallon tank and filter, Schoolcraft County Sportfishing Association gave a generous donation of over $1,000 to help us set up the tank and go on a field trip,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the Schoolcraft County Sportfishing Association for their donation that has helped us keep this program running.”
Espinoza delivered the class’s salmon eggs on Nov. 28, said Lindstrom. Within 30 days, the eggs were hatched, in another 30 days, the students were able to feed the fish, and by April, they were mature enough to release, he added.
“The project is about returning a natural resource back in the ecosystem that has been depleted,” explained Lindstrom. “I know salmon are a non-native species, but they were introduced to bring down the alewife (a species of herring and a salmon’s main food source) population. The alewives were being consumed by lake trout and that was effecting their reproductive cycle, because of a lack of vitamins.”
Following their participation in the program, Lindstrom said he expects the students to maintain a tie to the local fishery.
“Many students will see first hand how responsible fish management can support a species that may someday establish another sustainable resource for our area,” he explained. “Students need to be out in nature at a young age to learn about it and hopefully cherish it in the future. If this appreciation for nature is instilled in them at a young age, it should stay with them for life. This chance to bring students away from modern technology stimulation and back to the outdoors is priceless.
Our 200 eggs is just a small drop in the bucket compared to the 500,000 raised by the hatchery,” he continued. “But, hopefully, it helps the children become more interested in the outdoors and conservation.”