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Crofton students nurture salmon eggs, release young salmon into creek

They visited hatchery, came back to school with salmon eggs, placed them in insulated tank.

Students at Crofton Elementary have released a big bucket of young salmon into a local stream as part of a four-month class on the early life cycle of the incredible fish.

The students visited a nearby hatchery in January and learned all about salmon eggs. The children took the eggs back to school and placed them in a large, insulated fish tank in the school’s foyer.

“Students carefully monitored the eggs and their tank ­habitat and temperature over the ­winter where they witnessed the growth of the salmon and were able to be a part of their journey to the ocean,” said Mike Russell, director of communications for the Cowichan School District.

A busload of students ­carefully released the fry into Stocking Creek, between ­Chemainus and Ladysmith, and went on a scavenger hunt, recording plants and insects.

Salmonids in the Classroom is part of the Stream to Sea program offered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and has operated for more than 40 years in the Pacific region. The program allows classes access to salmon eggs, and teachers the use of online materials.

The federal agency said the goal of the program is to help students become aquatic stewards and active citizens who are interested in protecting local watersheds. “Raising salmon in the classroom provides an opportunity to teach students to understand, respect and protect freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems, and to recognize how all humans are linked to these complex environments,” the DFO said.

This is the 17th year that Crofton Elementary School has been involved in the program. Several schools in the Cowichan district take part, said Russell.

“With continued human habitation and ecological destruction along many traditional salmon spawning routes, the fish need all the help they can get,” he said.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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