The Life of a Salmon: Fry

Salmon have just recently entered the spawning channel, and right now they are in a stage called fry. In this life stage, they are slightly smaller than smolts and begin to develop a spotted pattern, called parr marks.

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Figure 1. Parr Marks on Salmon Fry. Photo Credit: Michael Wigle

 

Being so small, fry are not strong enough to swim upstream, so they drift downstream and find a gentle backeddy, which will be their feeding ground until they become larger. Fry must be very careful when looking for food because they may become food themselves! They have many predators, including blue herons, kingfishers, small mammals and other animals. Fry have a very important job, aside from not getting eaten: they must remember exactly where they were hatched. This is called imprinting. When the fry are bigger and ready to spawn, the salmon will leave the ocean and go back to the exact spot where they were born and lay or fertilize their eggs. That’s a pretty big responsibility for such a little fish!

 

Work Cited
Bowler, B., Johnson, M., Lowen, D. (1998). Salmonoids in the Classroom: Primary. Retrieved from: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/education/documents/sicprimary-secprimaire/english/sic_primary_unit_6.pdf   

The Life of a Salmon Part 3: Smolts

Previously on this series, The Life of a Salmon, we discussed eggs and alevins.  With the Walking with the Smolts Celebration TOMORROW, it seems like the perfect time to discuss the next life stage – smolts.

Once salmon grow larger in the river, they become smolts and migrate downstream. When they reach the estuary where the river meets the ocean, they begin adapting to the salt water. Smolts develop the ability to swallow salt water and expel the salt in their urine and through their gills. They also begin to form scales on their skin, giving them a silvery colour. Estuary life is abundant with food, so smolts can grow rapidly, but estuaries are also home to many predators, such as birds, reptiles and larger fish, and also to human development.

Coho_smolt2Now that the salmon have grown larger and developed a silvery colour, smolts begin to resemble adult salmon. What a great time to go over to parts of a salmon! Salmon use their fins and tail to move, their eyes to see, mouths to eat, and gills to breathe.

 

The figure below is from the Salmon in the Classroom program:

smolt diagram

 

Walking with the Smolts

Well, another year of Walking with the Smolts has come and gone. It was a beautiful event – one of the best we have had with the addition of the concert in the middle. First of all we would like to thank everyone for coming out – it was packed! We have some recordings of a few of the songs that we will post shortly.

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But there were also so many amazing stations around the spawning channel teaching the kids (and adults!) about our ecosystems and the plants and animals that are all around us. Together we learned how to plant a few of our native species, the importance of birds and bats, the wonder of aquatic invertebrates, all about salmon, and many other pieces of nature education. Starting a conversation about the natural world with kids in our community at a young age is how we can ensure that our community and broader world has environmental stewards in the next generation.

Hosting 700 kids is always a lot of work, so we want to thank all the volunteers and others who made the day what it was. We hope everyone enjoyed all that the day had to offer – and that you’ll come back! The spawning channel and nursery are beautiful places to come walk, birdwatch, or to buy some native plants for your garden – and you are always welcome.

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Concert

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Fish painting with the Smolts (Kids)!

Belted Kingfisher!

Belted Kingfisher!

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Decorations around the spawning channel

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Salmon

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Volunteer beavers

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Stream and pollution modelling

A fun outreach day, also known as “Kids with Power Tools”

Today a pile of grade 4/5 students bombarded our nursery, ready to build a whole bunch of nest boxes. It was a great day, with the main lesson being that kids have tons of fun when they’re outside in the sun and given power tools (supervised by adults, of course), paint brushes, and a bunch of fun games.

In 3 hours, we built 8 bat boxes, 10 nest boxes for the Western Screech Owl, painted six reptile boards, and burned off about 1,000,000 calories.

Check out our facebook page for more photos of the mayhem.

Wild Nature Summer Day Camp

Come join the fun and learn lots about our beautiful natural area.

Wild Nature Summer Day Camp – fun, hands-on and active outdoor adventures

July 22 to 26

9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Seton River corridor and surrounding areas

Register by sending us an email.  Add your child’s name and age, and your email address and we will get back to you with a registration package.