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Fish teach life lessons

Makenna Prey, Gabby Carusello, Heather Torode, and Katie McGee are ready to raise some fish. Photo provided (click for larger version)
May 26, 2010 - Sashabaw Middle School students released the salmon they had raised since fall into the Clinton River.

Rodney Pierson's science classes participated in Salmon in the Classroom - taking care of salmon from when they are inside an egg to over three inches long.

"We watched the salmon grow so we could understand the life cycle and understand how their ecosystem works as we observe what is going on," said seventh-grader, Gabby Carusello.

"They were really small and the orange were the ones to survive," she noticed.

The students were trained at the state hatcheries on what to feed them and how to take care of them.

The students also learned about the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and the purpose the salmon had in Michigan.

"With the building of the shipping canals in the early 20th century, sea lampreys were introduced to the Great Lakes, killing off the lake trout," explained Pierson.

The sea lampreys resemble eels, but feed on large fish - like the lake trout.

As the lake trout population dwindled, the population of smaller fish and nuisance fish on which they fed, grew.

"They needed another fish to to be introduced to either take place of the lake trout or play a similar role," said Pierson.

The salmon were introduced from the West Coast and had to be raised from eggs in a safe environment.

Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited sponsored the project, giving students the perfect opportunity to watch an ecosystem in action.

"We learned about the different types of ecology," said Jacob Topham, seventh-grader. "How they function and why it is important. We also sent out letters to business for supplies for bat houses. Bats are an important part of our ecosystem because all of the insects they eat. Through deforestation and various other human activities we are killing them off."

Through both they learned any destruction to the environment affects all organisms in the ecosystem and their survival.

"They learn what it does to the environment, the importance of a natural predator and without a natural predator trouble comes from somewhere else," said Rodney.

The salmon were released earlier this month and Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited will sponsor Salmon in the Classroom again next year for Pierson's classes.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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