By Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Lead
In November of 2022, we had 4 salmon return and spawn. These returning salmon would have been from the first or second year of the newly re-established salmon release program. With this program students are able to learn the life cycle of the salmon and also help to take care of them in the classroom. Having them in a fish tank in the class, is then easily accessible to watch them through the stages. They start out as eggs and need complete darkness. They are what the students would call boring at that point. Once they hatch and become alevin they are a little more fun to look at. They still have the egg sack attached, my coworker called it their food backpack and I love that. When they start to swim up in the tank they are ready for us to start feeding them. We are feeding them 4 times a day. They are hungry little guys. Once salmon release day comes along it is exciting and sad for me. I love that we are getting them back into our stream but I am sad that I will not be able to see them all every morning. This year we released 47 salmon.
For months I was waiting to see if those spawners were successful.Once May came around, I started to notice that there were multiple sizes of baby salmon in the stream, and that there were way more than only 47 salmon in there. Letting us know that our efforts of bringing back the salmon to our stream is working! I check on them every day, and I say hello to them. I have spotted clusters of them in multiple parts of the stream. From different spots it is easier to see them. I love to show the salmon to anyone who comes for a visit or a tour of the site. People have called me the salmon whisperer because I am able to spot them whenever I get to the stream. I have a feeling they will leave the comforts of our stream soon and head to the river, then make their way to the ocean. There is a blue heron that I often see, when I do see it I always tell him to not eat all of my salmon babies. I think it has been listening because we still have so many hanging around.
I am going to be on the lookout for any more returning salmon this fall. Fingers crossed we have more than 4 come home!