NewBrook checks in. Great TIC videos. Stream bug identification app. Questions regarding Release Day.
On Wednesday, I got an informative e-mail from Jason Gragen, of NewBrook School in Newfane. Here's what he said.
A few days off here due to snow, I planned on returning to school expecting the worse. To my surprise, there were no fish stuck to the filter (covered with netting), and none floating.
The brookies have nice color with dark parr marks and backs (pictures below), with exception of a half-dozen that are very lightly colored. They are rising to feed ,and swimming strongly.
Although I waited longer than usual to drop the basket, I kept it as clean as possible using a turkey baster to suck out egg shucks, fecal matter, and uneaten food during the early feedings.
[More from Jason follows.]
I was reading the TIC blog and correspondence from the other Windham County schools raising trout, and have a few thoughts.
1. Perhaps they were non-feeding pinheads. One other school is our zone had noted several pinheads dieing and having to be removed from the tank. Also, you mentioned some thoughts on pinheads. I will say, the fish I removed from the tank were the smallest in there.
2. You brought up an interesting point about bacterial infection, and this thought definitely crossed my mind as well. That's why I usually like to drop the net breeders as soon as the trout are feeding strongly, and getting some size on them. I hesitated this year because the fish as a whole were not developing size at the same rate. I'd say that there was a noticeable amount of 3 different sizes.
3. I had observed some of the larger fish being aggressive with the smallest ones in the net breeders. Perhaps there could have been physical harm to the one that I removed from the tank. I'm ruling this one out!
4. As for hands, mine are the only ones that have touched the water and I'm meticulous about washing them. I go so far as to rinse them four to six with just plain water after the first soap lather. So, I don't think this was the issue.
We will see what happens of the course of the next few days, and I will be performing a water change on Friday. I've checked on the fish several times this morning and they seem to be "looking" good.
Great trout videos
Last blog I urged you to watch some of the Release Day videos on this Web site. If you haven't visited it lately, you'll also find that there are several fun and informative videos available at this Web site's "Other Trout Videos" button on the home page. The first video below, done by Robert Michaelson, is one of those. It's 3:38 minutes long and includes some wonderful underwater photography. Enjoy!
This next video is truly amazing! It's half an hour long but well worth the time. Created in 1969--if you can believe that--it tells the story of the life of a huge, gorgeous rainbow trout and, in so doing, demonstrates the many threats that might otherwise prevent such an animal from surviving, much less attaining its massive size.
After you and your students watch this (some have had wet eyes at its conclusion), ask yourself, are there other threats to trout that aren't addressed in the video?
Realizing what's left out of this story tells you a lot about what's changed in our society and our societal concerns between 1969 and the present.
Among others, on that same page you'll also find an interesting video about how state and federal workers are using the "chop and drop" method to improve brook trout habitat in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
Macros on your smartphone?!
This week I got to "meet" (by e-mail) Professor Declan McCabe, Professor of Biology at Saint Michael's College. Dr. McCabe is active with a group called Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC). Dr. McCabe's area of expertise is "community ecology." He was instrumental in the development of a macroinvertebrate mobile application developed under RACC. Here are some images of the iPhone version of the app.
Dr. McCabe's app lists scores of Vermont streams and rivers. When you click on each stream name, up pops a page containing images of each of the macroinvertebrates found in that stream. And then, when you click on the image of each particular "macro," you get a paragraph or more about the insect, including its scientific name and, often, the name of the imitation fly that fly fishers would use to deceive a trout into biting. It's free. Check it out.
Now if it were only warm enough to be tromping around in streams!!
Release Day questions
It's time to start both thinking about and planning your Release Day. If you've never done this before, here are some questions to consider:
What’s it going to take to get to appropriate water?
A handful of Vermont schools can walk to their release site; a few even sit on the banks of gorgeous trout water (visit Lincoln Community School someday). But most schools need to arrange transportation to the release stream. Some schools don't balk at teachers booking busses for field trips, but other schools have no money for such purposes. You know your school. Either put in your field trip/bus reservation paperwork early and/or ask your PTO for financial support. Now!
How ambitious do you want to be?
Release Day plans vary widely. Some teachers, especially those who embed fieldwork into their classes throughout the year, hold simple. relatively short Release Days. These are little more than celebrations with short speeches, cheers, and photos. Most, however, conduct their releases at the end of a sequence of activities that can include the following and more:
How many people can you get to help?
Many teachers recruit Release Day helpers both from within and without the school community. Here are some possibilities:
Regional Trout Unlimited chapter TIC liaisons
If you don't know where to find the volunteers you need, contact your local TU TIC liaison. They might be able to help. Here they are:
Finally, pick a date!
I've already been invited to help with four Release Days, and I'm sure that over the next weeks, many more invitations will roll in. (The best time for a Release Day is sometime between mid-May and the first week of June.)
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.