Each year, a very special delivery is made to local schools: 200 endangered Atlantic salmon eggs. The students care for the eggs until they hatch and grow to become fry. They then release their fry with the hope that in a few years’ time, their salmon will return as adults to the very river they released them in. This is all part of the Fish Friends program run by the Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
DSF acts as a mentor to local area Fish Friends schools providing presentations on the salmon lifecycle, the difference between incubating salmon in the hatchery and the wild, and the importance of good quality salmon habitat. We don’t just talk to the students about salmon, we also get them doing hands-on activities like a hooks and ladders game that shows them the trials and tribulations of being a migratory fish, and lets them play the role of fisheries manager. The Fish Friends program demonstrates the importance of clean gravel to incubating eggs and alevin with a porosity and permeability activity, and we let them really get their hands dirty when we determine the water quality of the watersheds where they will release their fish by doing a real macroinvertebrate survey in the spring.
Each year DSF typically visits around eight area schools. If you are involved with or know of a school you would like to see participate in the program, feel free to reach out to the Fish Friend’s coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information at www.fishfriends.me.