Schools are bringing their salmon fry to the park!

KapKa Cooperative School visited on April 3rd, 2017 with 40 students, teachers, and parents. Their field trip included a scavenger hunt and adding 200 Chum salmon fry that they raised from eggs to the Salmon Imprint Pond.

KapKa’s music teacher, Jamie Shilling, lead the students in songs about salmon and school life.  Raising and releasing salmon and music has been a beloved tradition for years at KapKa Cooperative School.

St. Benedict students delivery their salmon fry to the Salmon Imprint Pond at Carkeek Park
St. Benedict students delivery their salmon fry to the Salmon Imprint Pond at Carkeek Park; Nancie Hernandez helps students count fish and learn how to safely add fish to the fish pond; March 27, 2017

Bus loads of kids are visiting Carkeek Park everyday with their teachers and parent chaperones to deliver hundreds of salmon to the Salmon Imprint Pond.  Each of 29 Salmon in the Schools (SIS) schools received Chum salmon eggs in early January and their fish are now about 2 inches in length and ready to be imprinted.

Seattle Public Utilities partners (SPU) with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and private schools to support this program of investigation, observation, learning, and sharing.  SPU supports the much larger Seattle program of nearly 60 schools, 29 of which bring their fish to Carkeek Park.

School field trips began on March 27 and will continue through April 20 for a total of 29 school field trips to Carkeek Park.  After these fish have been fed 3 x day, 7 days a week by CWCAP Imprint Stewards, they will be fully imprinted and ready for release into Venema Creek on or about May 13, 2017.

Viewlands Elementary’s bucket of fish; March 28, 2017, Christel Peterson

Each school received 220 Chum salmon eggs in early January provided by the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery.  Each school raises their fish from eggs that soon hatch to alevin, and then grow to the approximately 2 inch fry stage in 55 gallon chilled aquariums.

By the time late March rolls around each Spring, SIS school salmon fry are ready to move to the Carkeek Park’s Salmon Imprint Pond.  Here, they have about a month to memorize the chemical/mineral signature of the Piper’s Creek Watershed system.  The process of imprinting changes their home water “memory” so that they are very likely to return in 3-5 years as adults to spawn in the Pipers system.

In 3-5 years, some of these school fish may return to this system to spawn.  Similarly, some of the Chum salmon that returned to Piper’s and Venema Creek last fall to spawn may have been released 3-5 years earlier by some of these very same schools!  How excellent is that?

Stay tuned for updates as this wonderful program unfolds!

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