News & Views

New Canaan Country School 4th Graders Restock River with Salmon

New Canaan Country School fourth grade students traveled to the Salmon River State Forest in East Hampton, Conn where they carefully released baby salmon— or fry—into the river’s tributary, May 26. The salmon release was the final step in a scientific study of salmon, ecology and environmental issues.

“I loved releasing the salmon,” said Victoria Shaw of Stamford. “Mine swam to the bottom and under a rock. Releasing salmon with my friends and enjoying the river made it a special trip.” 

In February, Lower School Science Teacher Chantal Detlefs received 300 salmon eggs from the Connecticut River Salmon Association. Through its “Salmon-in-Schools” program, the organization has been working to re-establish the endangered species in the state's major river. Every day since then, the children have taken turns measuring the water temperature in their classroom’s chilled aquarium tanks; salmon need cold water, about 2 degrees Celsius.  

They have also charted the daily growth of the eggs as they became alevin and then fry. Through a combination of classroom discussion and hands-on activities, students have learned about the salmon’s upstream anadromous (fresh and saltwater) migration pattern to the river and back to the North Atlantic, observed salmon scales under the microscope, and have studied the effect of dams on salmon population.  
“The goal was to show them an example of a local endangered species,” says Ms. Detlefs who also teaches students about the reintroduction of wolves at Yellowstone. “They are able to observe closely, engage in real-time research and learn about environmental issues.”

The fish are finally ready for stocking by early- to mid-May. Once the Country School students’ data showed that the fry were ready, they boarded buses for the one-and-a-half hour ride to East Hampton. In addition to releasing the salmon, students searched for small invertebrates (salmon food) in the river. They learned about the health of the rivers, played a “predator-prey” game, participated in a scavenger hunt and created a reflective writing piece.

A particular highlight of the day was the release of two sets of conjoined salmon twins. 
“It was really interesting to watch them wiggle away,” said Michael Suozzi of New Canaan. “I hope that they will be okay.” 
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.