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        Oregon | Activity 8.4: Chinook Salmon - the Oregon State Fish

        Students watch a video about the salmon run in Oregon. They learn about research being done to help the Chinook salmon, and answer questions about the video.

        Lesson Summary

        Students watch a video about the salmon run in Oregon. They learn about research being done to help the Chinook salmon, and answer questions about the video.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Oregon | Unit 8: Modern Oregon & State Symbols." In this unit, students will consider Oregon’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as the state’s current day strengths and challenges. Students also learn about the state’s symbols and their meanings.

        Time Allotment

        20 minutes

        Learning Objectives


        4.12: Explain how people in Oregon have modified their environment and how the environment has influenced people’s lives.



        1. Explain to students that salmon are an important fish for Oregon. It is a staple for food, commerce, and natural river ecosystems. Salmon are born in rivers and lakes and then swim to the ocean around the age of one. After spending some time in the ocean, they return to those rivers and lakes between two and eight years later to spawn new salmon, and then they die. Tell students they will be watching a video about some students who conduct research to find out how the salmon are doing in their area.

        1. Distribute the Chinook Salmon handout and instruct students to take notes while watching the video.

        1. Play the video, DragonflyTV | Salmon Run. [5:06]

        1. Have a quick discussion about how humans have impacted the salmon’s ability to survive. Note that just one hundred years ago, millions of salmon used to travel and spawn in the Puget Sound. Yet today, only about 10% of that amount does so. Explain to students that this is mostly due to direct and indirect human interference. Reasons the salmon population is suffering include but are not limited to:

          1. Habitat change/destruction: Since salmon travel far distances, there’s a lot of opportunities for their path to be changed or damaged. Coastal modifications, land development, pollution, dams, agricultural development near rivers and lakes, and even timber harvest (less shade = warmer rivers) all affect the salmon population.

          2. The rate of harvesting salmon (for commercial/sport/fisheries/etc.)

          3. The negative influence of trying to grow salmon in artificial hatcheries: Some places are trying to save the salmon population by raising salmon and releasing them, but it doesn’t always work well if they’re not naturally spawned and introduced.

          4. Human-induced climate change: Changing river and ocean conditions (rising temperatures, changes in water levels and saltiness) are all side effects of a global climate change that negatively affect the Chinook salmon population.

        1. After discussing human influence on the Chinook salmon population, have students answer the questions on the Chinook Salmon handout either individually or in small groups. Give students at least 10 minutes to complete the worksheet.

        1. Either reconvene the class to discuss the answers or have the students submit the worksheet for grading.

        Answer Key:

        1. Dead salmon means that the adults thankfully made it back to the river to spawn [1:57].

        2. Skinny salmon mean they may not have been able to find enough food to eat [2:45].

        3. Other animals, such as bears and raccoons, eat the dead salmon and receive their nutrients [3:31].

        4. Ways human behavior negatively affects salmon population:
          Habitat change/destruction, coastal modifications, land development, pollution, dams, agricultural development, timber harvest, salmon harvest, artificial hatcheries, human-induced climate change.


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