Something fishy at E.S. Laird

By Geoff Lee

June 29, 2017 12:00 AM

FREEDOM! A Grade 9 science class from E.S. Laird Middle School released rainbow trout fingerlings they raised from eggs in a classroom aquarium into the Jack MacDougall Trout Pond on June 16. The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Provincial Program project was sponsored by the Lloydminster & District Fish & Game Association. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

It’s a pet science project that’s led to separation anxiety for a Grade 9 science class at E.S. Laird Middle School.
Teacher Shaun Donald said he and his students were sad to release about 100 rainbow trout fry into the Jack McDougall Trout Pond on June 16, after raising them from eggs in a class aquarium.
“For some people, including myself, it’s a little sad not having our little trout that we’re looking after sitting there,” said Donald, who taught the Fish in Schools program with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
“Now, we’ve got this big hole in the classroom where they’ve been since January.”
The fish however, took to their new home from the get-go according to eye-witness, Larry Chambers, treasurer of the Lloydminster & District Fish & Game Association, who sponsored the program.
“They sure looked active and nothing wrong with them when we released them,” he said.
“They were looking for stuff to eat along the shore, so I am sure they are going to be fine.”
Chambers said the fry will probably grow to seven or eight inches by the end of the year and will survive the winter with the pond being deep.
“Kids could catch some of the fish they released next summer,” he said.
The pond is stocked annually with up to 1,000 rainbow trout by Saskatchewan Fisheries.
The release wrapped up four to five months of studying the reproductive cycle of a species for the Grade 9 class.
“So this is a great visual way of showing reproduction in the classroom because we started with the eggs, and they could slowly see the eggs hatch and see the fish as they changed and grew,” said Donald.
“The students quite enjoyed it throughout the whole thing; they started calling them our little babies, our little eggs, our little trout.”
Donald plans to repeat the program for a new Grade 9 class next year, with the financial support from the local Fish and Game Association.
The association spent about $1,200 for the school program, including the purchase of a 75 gallon aquarium with all the equipment and shipping the fertilized eggs to the school.
E.S. Laird is the only school in Lloydminster with a sponsored Fish in Schools program, and the purpose is to teach students all about fish management and conservation.
“That’s the idea, to make kids more aware of fish and what kind of a resource they are,” said Chambers.
“Kids are absolutely enthralled with the project, and I think they had a lot of fun with it as well.”
The fry were about two to three inches long when they were released, moving slowly from a plastic bag of water from the aquarium to equalize the temperature of the pond.
“You can’t give them too big of a shock, you have to let them get used to it,” explained Chambers, who noted the students infused the water bag with oxygen for the trip to the pond.
Donald said some of his students, and maybe him too, might come back next year to fish off the dock with the fry they let go are adult size.
“I wish we could dye them or something to know if we were catching our own trout again,” he said.

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