The TIC enthusiasm of youth!
While visiting my younger daughter and her family in Maryland recently, I took my four-year-old grandson to the local TIC school, North Bethesda Middle School. I loved seeing him get excited about the school's rainbow fry!
Here are a few photos of our visit to the tank. Look at that beautiful window-covering mural the kids painted to shield the tank from the sunlight!
Are your fish swimming up yet?
Some teachers have reported that their fish have swum up and are eating. These are at classrooms that used the "warm and fast" temperature protocol. Most, schools, however, have kept their tanks cooler--perhaps 43 degrees or so--in order to have the swim-up occur after the winter break.
As we've discussed both at the fall workshop and in previous blogs, the key to knowing when your fish are likely to swim up is tracking DI (Development Index). You do this by entering daily temperatures, including estimated temperatures over weekends and school breaks, in the spreadsheet titled "2019 Temp and DI record and swim-up calculator" (using the Temp entry and DI record worksheet after you've opened the spreadsheet in Excel). Even if you haven't been keeping up this spreadsheet, as long as you've been recording temperature, you can reconstruct the Temp and DI record and find out what your DI is.
So what DI are we looking for? The experiences of TIC teachers in the past suggest that a DI of 82 is the time to be hyper vigilant. We believe that most fry will start swimming up between DIs of 82 and 87.
When your fry swim up, you should try feeding them a tiny bit of food. If the alevin don't eat it fairly quickly, scoop it out and discard.
Over the next couple of weeks, it will be critical that teachers and students whose fish haven't yet swum up are watching their alevin/fry very carefully, looking for signs that the alevin are getting ready to swim up. Here's a short video that tries to explain what that swim-up readiness looks like.
Great Manchester Journal article
The Manchester Journal recently ran a nice article about the TIC program at Maple Street School.
Teacher Suzanne Alfano reached out to the editor, Darren Marcy, who became interested in the program and said that he'd like to publish a monthly article on TIC. That would be great exposure for the TIC program.
Click the image below, to read the article.
Updates on Salisbury
A lot has happened in the last week regarding Governor Scott's proposal to close the especially important Salisbury hatchery, where our trout eggs are developed.
Yesterday, outdoors writer Dennis Jensen published a piece in the Rutland Herald and the Times Argus. The image below links to the article.
A lengthy editorial, with lots of important details, also appeared in the Addison Independent. Here it is.
From what I understand, numerous TIC students, teachers, and even parents have sent letters to the governor and to local representatives. Thanks for those! They can make a difference.
Finally, on Wednesday morning, a group of interested citizens met with Governor Scott to express their concerns about the consequences of the hatchery closing. As I understand it, these groups, including Trout Unlimited, will be sending letters to the governor reiterating and expanding on their concerns.
All of this makes me hopeful that our political leaders will find an alternative to closing the hatchery. But keep sending those letters!
Salisbury hatchery could close!
Because of budget concerns, the "nursery" where our brook trout started their young lives may close. The Fish and Wildlife Department has developed a plan for the closure of the hatchery within the next year.
Click this link (or the image below) to access a Vermont Public Radio story about the possible closure.
While Vermont currently has five state hatcheries, Salisbury is particularly important because it is where what are called the "broodstock" are raised.
Broodstock are the mature, large female and male fish that provide the eggs and milt, respectively, used in the fertilization process. The closure of Salisbury could have three very serious consequences:
Assuming that we can find a way to cover the cost of the eggs and their shipment, it may be possible to continue the TIC program by obtaining eggs from an out-of-state source. This is not assured, however, because I/we would have to obtain a "Fish Importation Permit," and that would be granted only if the out-of-state source is judged to pass Vermont's "fish health standards." (Vermont's standards are based on the Northeastern Fish Health Guidelines [link to document]. Other factors, too, could be considered in reviewing our FIP application.)
So this could be a time for civic action by you and your students. If you want to go that route--some schools have already done so--contact the Governor and your local representatives (click here), explain how important the TIC program is, and tell them you don't want the Salisbury hatchery to be shut down.
Here's a link to a report titled Salisbury Fish Culture Station Decommissioning Analysis prepared by Adam Miller, Fish Culture Operational Chief for Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Department.
More great videos of alevin
The great TIC content provider, Danielle Levine, of Schoolhouse Learning Center, sent three more wonderful videos of alevin at close quarters. This is a great way to teach your students about trout anatomy and physiology. Enjoy!
That's great camera work, Danielle. Please keep those media files coming! And I encourage other teachers to send in their work too.
PS: Here's a link to Danielle's "Dinoscope" images.
You may have heard Danielle discussing "oil ... circles on its belly" with her students.
Well on 2/3/19, Marion Cross School teacher Matt Buck asked Robb Cramer and me this question:
The kids and I are curious if you know what the small circles appearing on the yolk sack are. It showed up on most, if not all, of the alevin we had out for observation.
Here's the video he was referring to.
Quickly, Matt's colleague Lindsay Putnam responded with this:
I see that all the other alevin close-ups show these structures, too. Here [click "Here" to link to technical article Lindsay found] is the only reference I could find. From this, it sounds like they are "yolk drops", which contain cholesterol. There are 2 types, vacuolated and "smooth" which are more liquid. Presumably to be absorbed? As the alevin age, the vacuolated yolk drops melt into liquid oils and the yolk sac material is all liquid in appearance.
Great observations and investigative work, Marion Cross!
White yolk sac??
On 2/4, Danielle Levine sent this question with accompanying photos.
We have a trout that has what looks like a white yolk sac. When we looked at it closer with our eyes and a microscope it seems that it has a yellow yolk like normal that is encased in a larger white sac. Has anyone seen this before? Should we be worried?
Has anyone seen this? Not having encountered this irregularity before, I told Danielle that I wasn't optimistic.
4th graders' TIC blog
Amy Newbold, of the Village School of North Bennington, sent me a link to the inaugural video blog, called Trout Tuesdays, prepared by two VSNB 4th graders.
Amy has set up the VSNB tank in the school library, so all of the students at the school have been introduced to the fish. As a result, school-wide buy-in is very high. Because of this, these two particularly enthusiastic TIC fans wanted to make sure that all of their school-mates got regular updates on how the trout were doing.
Great job, boys! We look forward to future installments of Trout Tuesday.
Science journal cover
Lisa Marks, of Ludlow Elementary School, sent me a photo of the cover of her students' science, AKA TIC, journals. Here it is:
That beautiful brook trout artwork was created by SWVTTU volunteer Kathy Ehlers. Thanks Kathy for allowing us to use your gorgeous rendering!
Joe Mark is Lead Facilitator of Vermont's Trout in the Classroom program.
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 a parent-friend 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.