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Posted on May 7, 2020 at 3:09 PM by Rebecca Crust
Salmon Survival Activity – Adapted from Trout Unlimited for at home set-up
PDF version of this post
Original instructions by trout unlimited
This game teaches kids about the salmon lifecycle and obstacles that they overcome to reproduce.
Recommended age: children and adults 6 years and older
Each participant will start with a full cup of lentils. Explain that this represents a redd, which is what we call a nest of salmon eggs. There are 9 stages in this game for each part of the salmon life cycle. Each lentil represents a salmon that will attempt to migrate to the ocean, grow into a mature adult, and return to the freshwater stream where it hatched to spawn.
At each stage, read the lifecycle description and then have each participant roll the 6-sided die. The number on the die will correspond to an obstacle that will eliminate a fraction of their salmon. Have participants pour out the fraction of their remaining lentils indicated by the obstacle key. Be sure that they are pouring out a fraction related to the remaining lentils and not the amount that they started with. Younger participants may need assistance determining fractions. Remind participants that this is not a competition, so it is important that the fractions they pour out are accurate.
When you have completed all 9 stages, count the remaining lentils in your cups and average them (there should be very few). Explain that this activity models how difficult completing the salmon lifecycle can be. On average, in a nest of 4,000 salmon eggs, only 3 or 4 will survive to spawn. Reflect on the obstacles you encountered- was there anything that stood out or surprised you?
Stage Descriptions and Obstacle Keys
Stage 1 - You are a salmon egg, just laid in a redd (nest) of gravel (small rocks).
Stage 2 - You have developed (grown) into an eyed egg. Your eye can be seen through your egg shell.
Stage 3 - You’ve hatched into an alevin with a big yolk sac (belly full of food).
Stage 4 - Now you’re a little fry with good camouflage. You eat little insects and hide a lot.
Stage 5 - When you become a smolt, your body changes so that you can live in salt water. You look all silvery (shiny) now.
Stage 6 - You spend years in the Pacific Ocean, growing to become a HUGE adult salmon. The ocean is full of good food.
Stage 7 - As a fully grown adult salmon, you start heading back from the ocean to the river you came from.
Stage 8 - You follow your sense of smell farther and farther up, looking for the stream where you hatched.
Stage 9 - Finally, you reach the stream where you hatched. You’re so close! If you can get all the way home, you will spawn (lay eggs).