The Tignish Elementary School Aquarium may look empty, but if you look closely, you’ll find over 100 tiny, freshly hatched salmon.
“It’s pretty cool to come to school every morning and you can look in the reservoir and see some salmon,” said Matthew Perry, who is in grade 6.
His classmate Camden Gallant agreed.
“My favorite thing about having salmon in school would probably be going to see them every day,” he said.
The school received fish eggs from the Abegweit First Nation last month — and it’s not the first time. According to principal Mark Ellsworth, the school helps hatch fish eggs each spring to teach students about aquaculture.
“Tignish being… a fishing community, I think it’s something they can easily relate to and be involved in at a young age,” Ellsworth said.
“I think any time you have the opportunity to have kids learn from real-life experiences, it makes reading so much more meaningful. It makes writing so much more meaningful.”
For weeks, the students used a flashlight to peer into the tank and decipher which was an egg and which was a pebble. But during March Break, the eggs hatched.
“Well, they were pretty excited and they were wondering, you know, how fast they were going to grow and wanted to know if they had all made it,” he said.
“They know there will be times when not all the fish will make it.”
Now the students are responsible for monitoring and caring for the salmon.
“They’ve just hatched and they’ve just come out of their shells and they’re still living off the yolk below them,” said Matthew, who wants to be a fisherman.
“Every morning we come to check the temperature, feed them and make sure they are alive and healthy.”
released into the wild
Eventually, the fish will be too big to keep at Tignish Elementary School, although that’s still a few months away.
“What we’ll do is we’ll get advice…as to where it would be best to release these fish,” Ellsworth said.
“Of course, there’s a bit of anticipation as to how they’re going to get along there.”
Grade 6 student Parker Gaudet looks forward to liberation day.
“Getting to release them knowing there will be more and … there might even be more during the fishing season,” he said.
“I think that’s probably going to help the numbers.”
Until then, students will continue to share their school with the fish and watch them grow.
“Even though they are young and small, they still have a big role to play in the environment,” Ellsworth said.
“This, I think, is one of the first learning grounds for them to learn this.”