Elementary students across the county recently got a firsthand look at the lifecycle of salmon, after raising and releasing them.
Members of the Pictou County Rivers Association captured adult Atlantic salmon from the West River in October 2013 after obtaining a special permit from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
They were taken to the Fraser Mills Fish Hatchery, operated by the Nova Scotia Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture, where staff collected eggs and returned the fish to the river.
The hatchery staff cared for the eggs throughout winter.
In early March, the rivers association delivered the eggs to temperature-controlled aquariums in 12 schools.
The teachers and students watched the eggs develop and eventually hatch into tiny Atlantic salmon alevins, using it as a education tool for the students about the importance of clean water and a healthy environment for salmon to survive.
Eventually, the alevins absorbed their yolk sacs and began to swim around in the aquariums. At this point, the students began daily feeding of the salmon fry.
In early June, members of the Pictou County Rivers Association went to each of the schools, collected the fish from the aquariums and transported them to the West River at Salt Spring Provincial Park. The students from the classes boarded a bus and were also transported to the park where they participated in releasing the salmon back into their native river.
A total of 2,750 Atlantic salmon fry were raised by the students and released back to the West River.
Across the county, 350 elementary students participated in the program.