Mt. Eccles salmon-hatching sheds light on climate change

The Cordoba Times –

When a mischievous Mt. Eccles student cranked up the temperature on the school’s 30-gallon salmon tank, it threatened to undo months of work. But the prank also helped teach students a lesson, said Kate Morse, program director for the Copper River Watershed Project.

“It wasn’t an ideal situation, but it gave us a very teachable moment regarding climate change, and how that can affect fish,” Morse said. “It’ll help us explore some of the things that could happen in real life.”

Salmon growth is guided by how much heat the fish absorb over their lifetimes. Up to a point, more warmth causes salmon to mature more quickly. But, beyond a certain degree, the heat becomes unsurvivable. Over the past three decades, global ocean temperatures have remained consistently higher than at any other point since reliable measurements began in 1880, according to Environmental Protection Agency statistics, raising questions about how much heat salmon can tolerate

Each year, Mt. Eccles Elementary School students hatch salmon from eggs, raise them and release them. By dosing salmon with roughly the same amount of heat they’d receive in the wild, they should be roughly the same size as their contemporaries by the time they’re released, Morse said. The school’s tank has been reengineered to be more tamper-proof, although, as of 2018, there was still occasional horseplay with the temperature.

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