Schools of salmon streamed into classrooms last month in refrigerated incubators! Year 9 pupils from St Colm’s High and P7’s from Oakwood Integrated Primary have been hatching fish eggs for release, into their local river with the help of the Belfast Hills Partnership.
The project known as ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ gives young people a unique opportunity to learn more about the life cycle of Atlantic Salmon as well as threats to the species, the impact of pollution and the importance of looking after our rivers.
The project is part of the ‘Our Bright Future’ initiative, funded by the Big Lotter Lottery NI, which aims to reconnect young people to their local environment, inspiring them to learn more about nature and becoming ambassadors for the planet.
The big release came today during National Science Week when the children said goodbye to their salmon that duly swam out into the Derriaghy River, a tributary of the River Lagan that flows from the Belfast Hills, through Belfast and Lisburn and out to sea at Belfast Lough. The pupils also took part in river dipping using nets to catch freshwater invertebrates they later examined.
Jo Boylan, Youth Outreach Officer for the Belfast Hills Partnership said: “By taking part in this hands-on conservation activity, we hope these pupils will develop a sense of pride in their local river and legacy that will hopefully be passed from generation to generation.
“It has been a brilliant experience for the children involved in the project with the pupils showing so much care and enthusiasm in nurturing their fish.”
The Belfast Hills have numerous small streams which become larger wooded rivers and waterfalls, finally feeding urban rivers down to the River Lagan and Belfast Lough or flow through the wider countryside to Lough Neagh.