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Third graders raise and release Atlantic Salmon

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
May 10, 2018

Every year third graders at Harpswell Community School raise Atlantic Salmon from eggs to fry in a tank in their classroom. Harpswell Heritage Land Trust educator Julia McLeod presents a series of lessons about life cycles, biodiversity, adaptations, clean water and migration. The students release the salmon in the Little River in Lisbon in May. As part of their lessons, the students are tasked with imagining the life of a salmon and writing a story from the fish’s perspective. The following are some of the stories students wrote.

From Alevin to Adult
By Isaac

I was born in a stream in Maine. My food? A yolk sack. I lived in gravel. I’m not too big just two centimeters. My brothers and sisters crowded around me in the gravel. I feel safe. But then I lose my yolk sack, I wriggle up to the open water. Oh joy! I take in my surroundings. I am a fry! I catch a few microscopic materials to eat. I am about six centimeters long and independent. I get larger and larger and eat more and more. But soon I start getting parr marks. I am approximately a foot long. My parr marks help me blend into the weeds, sand and rocks in the river. Soon I turn into a smolt and a change comes over me. I lose my parr marks and become silver. This will help me blend with the rocks and water. I make the perilous journey down stream. It’s hard on me but nonetheless. I make it to the ocean in a timely manner. Here this story ends but my life does not. I become a very successful salmon.

The Life Cycle of the Salmon
By Ashlyn and Morgandy

Salmon lay their eggs and in about four months they turn into alevins. After they hatch they will begin to eat from their egg sacs. They stay in the same spot in the river.

SAD FACT: Salmon are in danger and are almost extinct.

Back to the life cycle: The alevin grow to fry and they stay in the river. After a short while they
turn into parr and then they will get spots! They stay in the same area until it is time for them to swim to the sea. They eat other small fish, algae and other fish eggs. Adults return to the river and breed. The females lay their eggs and the cycle begins again.

FACT: Japanese sushi has salmon eggs (roe) in it.

ONE MORE FUN FACT: The largest king salmon weighed 126 pounds!!!!! They are different from our Atlantic salmon, which are never that big!

Beautiful Salmon
By Izabella

The salmon is an endangered fish. They have lots of challenges to complete in their life. When they hatch they are called alevin and still have the egg sack stuck to them. I wonder what color the egg sack is. At the end they go back to the river they were born in and have babies and the life cycle goes over again and that is how it works!

The Fish
By Rohan

My name is Tom. I was born in a cold stream with 1,000s of other eggs. Being an alevin felt weird because I had an orange thing hanging on. After I became a fry and it felt good to have the orange thing off. Yay, I’ve grown more. I’m a parr. Next I’m a smolt. I will go out to sea soon. Now I live out at sea. I will go back to my cold stream shortly. I have started my journey back to where I was born. I will lay my eggs and return out to sea soon. The end.

My Life as a Salmon
by Mason

Hello. I’m Jake. I am a fry. I live with 7,000 siblings. Soon I will be going to sea so I snuck away to get some food so I could be big and strong. Two years later finally I’m a smolt. Today I’m going out to sea and I am big and strong. Now I’m older so I will go find a mate. Now I’m dying. I hope my sons and daughters have a good life.