The Salmon Project for this year’s fourth graders at Sierra View Elementary School recently came to an end as they released the Chinook salmon they’ve been studying and learning about since the fall.
Each elementary school in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District hosted a special tank containing a salmon redd, or nest, with fertilized salmon eggs. Sierra View fourth grade teacher Sigrid Noordewier said that her school received approximately 30 eggs in early January. A number of Sierra View students then turned out on Feb. 24 in Knights Ferry to release the tiny fish into the Stanislaus River near the bridge with the hope that several will survive to adulthood to return and spawn there one day.
Noordewier said that the ideal temperature for the salmon to develop properly from the egg stage to the fry stage is 50-52 degrees, fluctuations above or below that limit their survival chances. Once their yolk sacs are nearly absorbed, it’s a signal that it’s time for their release.
“You get to the point where you know you have to release them or they’ll die,” Noordewier said.
She noted that of the eggs they received, one didn’t “hatch” and two died but those that remained grew to the fry stage and will make their way toward the ocean.
“They wouldn’t have gotten to this stage if they were (laid) in the river because the trout hang out and wait to eat the eggs,” she said.
Victoria Martinez, a student in Cheri Martin’s fourth grade class participated in the salmon fry release. She talked about how the salmon developed in the tank at school.
“At first, they weren’t really swimming, then they started to swim everywhere. Then their yolk sacs started getting smaller,” she said.
Being able to see the salmon develop in the classroom the way they do in nature was a special opportunity, she said, adding, “It was really cool.”