Every spring, 7 Lakes Alliance participates in Fish Friends, a program run by the Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
Sea-run Atlantic salmon migrate between the ocean and upstream spawning habitat in rivers including the Kennebec River watershed. Each year, program participants raise Atlantic salmon from eggs to fry in a chilled tank and then release them into the local watershed to begin their journey to the sea.
The program typically gives eggs to participating schools across Maine, providing students with the unique opportunity to learn and care for an endangered species. With schools currently closed, 7 Lakes Alliance jumped in to take a second batch of eggs!
Several weeks after arriving in the tank, the eggs hatched into alevins, young that continue to feed from their attached egg sacs in the protected gravel bottom of the stream--or in this case, the tank--for about a month after hatching. Once the egg sacs were fully absorbed, the young, now called fry, emerged from the bottom able to swim and ready to feed. Throughout the entire process, tanks had to be carefully regulated and maintained to mimic the temperatures of natural streams.
On May 27th, the fry were released into Bond Brook. The event was live-streamed on Facebook, and you can watch the full release here. With luck, these salmon will continue to make their way to the ocean and return later in their lives to lay their own eggs in the stream in which they were released.
Maine is home to the last surviving wild Atlantic salmon populations in the United States. To learn more about the life cycle and the challenges faced by these imperiled fish, visit https://www.asf.ca/about-atlantic-salmon/life-story.