Windswept senior students from Oak Bay High School poured out of a bus, into large orange jackets and onto the docks at the Victoria International Marina – all in the name of science.
They were taking water samples from the harbour Tuesday as part of a new salmon rearing education project put together by the Marina and the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition. The students, mostly Grade 12s, were looking at the saline and pollution levels in the water to determine if the area would work as a temporary marine enclosure for salmon fry.
“We would take wild brood stock of salmon that are native to this area and, when it’s time to release them, instead of just releasing them into a river you put them into a temporary marine enclosure for several weeks,” said coalition president Christopher Bos. “This would allow the salmon fry to double in size and have much higher chance of surviving when they’re released into the ocean.”
Growing a healthier salmon stock would only be a small part of the project; the larger focus would be on education and public awareness that would allow students to help raise the salmon fry before being released.
“There’s an importance if you teach students at an early age, because it gives them an element of stewardship and understanding,” Bos added.
The students were happy to learn, using electronic dissolved oxygen and temperature and salinity meters, and optical salinity meters to practice their biology skills.
“I think it’s really interesting getting to know your local ecosystem better, “ said student Peter Goodacre. “I’m not particularly interested in biology myself, but I think it’s interesting to know the information about the place where we live.”
Other classmates also saw a practical side to the project.
“It’s good to know these kinds of things so that if you’re reading a newspaper or article you can say, ‘Oh I know what that means, I know what’s going on,’” said Ali Gallant.
Some, however, thought the experience held greater potential.
“It opens your eyes where you can go into the world and you can actually do something,” said Charlotte Konn. “It puts a new thought into your head of what you’re looking at and what you can do next year.”
The testing will continue until the middle of June. The results will then be included in an application for the project to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Pending the results of the application, salmon fry could be going into the water in 2019.