INTRODUCTION:It all began with some very small fish.
CHUM salmon fry.
We raise them carefully in a aquarium in the hallway of a school and then gently place them into a stream behind the school. We give them names and words of salmon wisdom and then release them with great hope and confidence. The clear water in our stream looks clean to us. It's a place where our fish will thrive and survive as they make their way out into the Puget Sound and into the Pacific Ocean. And back again three or four years later where they would lay eggs.
But then came this article in the local newspaper....
From this article we learned that our Murden Cove watershed is considered the "problem child" of the island!
Among the problems is the fact that the amount of fecal coliform bacteria present in the stream is higher than the state's standards.
And they even noticed that our dissolved oxygen levels are lower than they should be.
But why are these problems for our fish? And what can we do to help our stream become healthy? We are going to find out and become part of the solution.
HOW CAN WE TELL IF OUR STREAM IS GOOD FOR SALMON?
What does our salmon need in order to survive in our streams? We are going to measure some water quality of our stream later in the week. Watch the following videos to reflect on these salmon needs.
- Salmon need a combination of slow water and fast water so that a salmon can take a break in the slow water and build up energy to swim through the faster parts. Watch this video of chum salmon swimming upstream at Chico Creek to see how they use power through shallow places and use pools of slower water to rest.
- We need a good supply of oxygen in the water. We can get a good supply of dissolved oxygen in the water by having a stream that rushes over rocks.
- Salmon need hiding places near banks where they can hide from predators.
- Salmon need gravel beds that are not muddy so that salmon can lay their eggs.
- Salmon prefer cold water so they need temperatures that are below 60 Fahrenheit but above freezing (32 degrees F). We kept our tank between 47 degrees F and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Salmon needs the right level of pH in the water as well. What is pH? Learn more about this by watching the following BrainPop. Click on the picture to load. Remember to put in the correct user name and password.
- Our salmon also need clear water, not cloudy water. The term that explains whether water is clear or cloudy is "turbidity." Watch this video to learn more about how scientists measure turbidity.
WATERSHED 101:Source: Owen County Lower White River Projecthttp://owenswcd.org/
But first we need to know that we all live in a watershed. What is a watershed? You can see in the above picture that a watershed is an AREA of LAND that is DRAINED by a river or a water system into a larger body of water. The BOUNDARIES of a watershed are the highest points surrounding the watershed. This is called a DIVIDE. Everything that flows down from the divide flows into the body of water.
Watch this video to learn more:
ACTIVITY 1: KNOW YOUR BAINBRIDGE ISLAND WATERSHEDS.Being an island, Bainbridge actually has many different watersheds that flow into the Puget Sound. Do you know which one you live in?