Monday, January 30, 2012

Rosemary Anderson High School

Occasionally, I have the privilege to work with a small group of high school students from Rosemary Anderson High School (RAHS). It is the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center’s community based alternative high school, which gives at-risk students who are not succeeding in public school, a last chance for an education, and a way to change their future.

The students are incredible. Together, we have collected and identified macroinvertebrates, learned tree identification, received instruction in using ArcMap, and collected and identified different types of lichen.

With Wolftree staff as lead organizers, RAHS students have embarked on a multi-year study involving an urban tree inventory project. The tree inventory will be used to compare neighborhoods and demographics. The students are particularly interested in census information for different neighborhoods in Portland.

During times when tree identification is made difficult by the absence of leaves, such as now, the students compile the data already collected, practice using GIS, and conduct other field studies related to their tree study. These studies include lichen identification and nest observations. These side studies may or may not be used in conjunction with their tree inventory study. At the very least, the students continue to gain knowledge in data collection and scientific observations.

Submitted by Donna Allard

Monday, January 23, 2012

PIT Tagging

My name is Bob Haverkate and I am the Agreements Assistant at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbia River Fisheries Program Office. My normal workday duties consist of administering the Grants and other Financial Assistance awards our office provides to Tribes, other agencies, and non-profit organizations. My work is primarily performed at my desk either on my computer or on the telephone.

Once in a while, maybe three or four times a year, I get an opportunity to help out our Marking Crew with a PIT tagging project. I will be working in the field, actually a marking trailer, with no phone, no computer, not a single luxury.I relish a chance to work in the field with other staff that I do not normally work with on a day to day basis.

Today’s task is to implant 6000 PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) radio tags into 6000 juvenile spring Chinook salmon. These tags emit a specific radio code when energized by a PIT tag antenna. Each tag is discreet which enables tracking of each individual fish. (More information on PIT tagging projects and results is available on the CRFPO website.) The tags in this picture are 12mm or .47 inches long.

The first step in the process is placing the tag inside a 12 gauge veterinary hypodermic needle with syringe attached. Each tag has to be placed inside the needle. The needle/syringes are stacked into the trays shown in the background of the photo. The trays are then provided to the person performing the actual tagging of the fish.

The juvenile fish, in this case spring Chinook salmon, are anesthetized prior to tag implantation. The fish shown below are underwater and are gilling (breathing) slowly. They are very much alive and healthy.

Each fish is lifted by hand and the PIT tag is inserted into the abdominal cavity using the syringe.

The fish is then placed in a “lazy river” flowing through the tagging trailer and arrives in the hatchery raceway. The fish recover from the anesthetic quickly and usually show no sign of the PIT tag implanting procedure.

Submitted by Bob Haverkate

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fish Dissection Gets the Green Light

John, the teacher from Creative Science School let me know that his students took a vote and decided that they did indeed want to dissect a salmon. I guess in years past, when the opportunity presented itself, most of the kids opted out, leaving a presenter and a bunch of fish untouched.

So, Rod, Larry, and I headed over to the school with a cooler full of coho salmon. Most of the kids were excited although a few pulled their shirts upp over their noses as if it already smelled. It didn't. The cooler had not even been cracked open yet. John reminded them that they had voted and all had agreed to go through with the activity. Off to recess they went while we lined the desks with paper and set out the fish and activity sheets.

The students returned and donned their gloves. After a short introduction on the external anatomy, we instructed the kids to slit open the salmon's belly and following their charts, find the internal organs. We roamed the room and were available to give anyone assistance if needed.

After about 1/2 hour, we knew it was time to wrap up the activity. By then, most of the kids had found the internal organs and had begun to wander off. We all cleaned up and then sat down for a short question and answer period. A few of the funnier moments came as one boy asked if we had ever seen any other student lick a spleen. Rod answered no but added that he had seen a student eat an eyeball once. The boy then proudly pulled out his iPhone and waved proof of himself licking a spleen. Another student asked Rod if he would eat the spleen if someone gave him a million dollars. Rod replied that he would eat the whole fish for a million dollars. I think I would too.

Submitted by Donna Allard