BABY salmon from the Oreti River are already heading out to sea, and those which survive should return in about three years to spawn.
Almost 30 juvenile salmon were released by James Hargest College (JHC) teacher Jo Williamson last week as part of the Fish In Schools programme.
Fish & Game field officer Cohen Stewart said nine Southland schools took part in the interactive programme in which pupils raised salmon from eggs to smelt, before releasing the majority of them.
Into its fourth year, the eggs were sourced from the Fish & Game North Canterbury salmon hatchery and took six months to grow large enough to be released, Mr Stewart said.
“The pupils see them hatch and grow to about 8cm in length, and learn about the salmon’s life cycle.”
One of the most important things the pupils learnt was about water quality. They learnt what the salmon needed to survive and how important it was for the salmon to have clean water.
“Water quality is the key thing… too much feeding results in dead fish.
“They quickly learn once they see the salmon go belly up.”
Ms Williamson, JHC teacher in charge of agriculture and horticulture, escorted a group of Years 9 and 10 pupils to release their salmon.
The annual programme was really successful and interactive for the Year 9-13 pupils, she said.
“We can’t all learn from reading.
“A lot won’t have pets at home… and this could help teach them to be good humans.
“The Year 12 chemistry pupils named all of them last year.”
It was an opportunity for the pupils to actually see the impact of their and others’ actions, she said.
“We did a lot of water quality testing… and used rain water from my tank or pond water.”
Once released into the wild, the salmon would swim to sea, and hopefully most would come back to the Oreti River and spawn.
This was the third year the school had taken part in the programme, so she was hoping salmon from the first-year release would return this year.
Six of the JHC juveniles were retained to continue growing in a tank, so pupils could observe them growing to mature fish, and may be tagged before being released later.