Kersley Elementary School students get a firsthand look at salmon life cycle

Baker Creek Enhancement Society delivered 50 eyed eggs, which will develop into fry at the school

For the next six months, students at Kersley Elementary School will be able to watch Chinook salmon develop through three stages of life as the eggs dropped off recently turn into fry that can be released into the wild.

Brenda Galbraith and Amanda Dreager of the Baker Creek Enhancement Society brought 50 Chinook salmon eggs and information about the life cycle of salmon when they brought the Stream to Sea Program to the school.

The eggs, which Galbraith and Dreager brought with them and dropped in the school’s aquarium, are at the “eyed eggs” stage.

“It’s an egg that’s been fertilized,” Dreager told the grades 2, 3 and 4 students in Division 2.

“The mom has already laid it, and the male has fertilized it. There is an embryo inside.”

The eyed eggs were placed in a redd, which Dreager says is like an egg nest, and the redd in the tank is like the nest a female salmon creates before she lays her eggs.

“That’s [the egg’s] safe place, where it can grow and develop, and it is safe from predators.

“That’s why we put the redd in your tank because this is what it would be like in the wild.”

Once the eggs hatch, they become alevins, and they have a yolk sac attached to them. These yolk sacs contain the alevin’s food.

Dreager told students they are like lunch boxes that they carry with them.

Once the alevin has eaten all the food in its yolk sac, it reaches the fry stage, Dreager explained.

“At that stage, we will release your salmon into the creek.”

The Kersley Elementary fry will be released into Baker Creek and will make their way to the Fraser River.

Dreager explained that when the fry reach the estuary, where the salt water and fresh water meet, there is a lot of food for salmon. When they reach that stage, they are called smolts.

“They eat and get used to salt water and then go out into the ocean, where they will eat other fish and krill, and they will become adults.

“When [the females] are ready to spawn, they are going to go back to the Fraser River, stop eating, swim all the way back up the river and smell their way back to where we released them.”

Dreager said the eggs at Kersley Elementary School will released in June.

This is the sixth consecutive year Kersley Elementary School has received salmon eggs through the Sea to Stream Program.

The program was slated to be cut last May when Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced cuts to its education and technical support contracts, but in June 2017, the federal department reversed the cut, and the program is continuing.

This year, the Baker Creek Enhancement Society is delivering the Stream to Sea program to seven schools and is also delivering one program at The Nature Centre.

Dreager said the public is always welcome to drop by The Nature Centre, which is located at West Fraser Timber Park, in the same building as the washrooms.

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