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        Oregon | Activity 8.5: Salmon through the Years

        Students look at an EPA graph and photos of salmon at different time periods in history. They discuss the causes of the decreased size and population of salmon in Oregon, and make outlines of the size of the fish to note the significant difference.

        Lesson Summary

        Students look at an EPA graph and photos of salmon at different time periods in history. They discuss the causes of the decreased size and population of salmon in Oregon, and make outlines of the size of the fish to note the significant difference.

        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

        Standards

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

        Supplies

        Directions

        1. Explain to students that salmon are a key part of Oregon’s natural river ecosystems, its economy, as well as its food supply. The Chinook salmon is actually Oregon’s state fish.

        1. Show students the EPA graph showing the number of Chinook salmon in the Pacific Northwest, Chinook Salmon Graph, and point out the steady and significant decline over time.

        1. Show students the photo, Salmon in 2013. This photo is the most recent; it was taken in 2013 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service studies patterns in salmon populations in order to protect the species.

        1. Ask students to compare this picture to the following pictures, Salmon in 2004, and Salmon in 1910. Suggest they compare the fish to the size of the hands holding the fish or the men standing next to them.

        1. Next, show students the photo, Salmon in 2004. This photo was taken in 2004, also by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Note how the salmon looks larger than the one from 2013.

        1. Lastly, show students the photo, Salmon in 1910. This photo was taken in 1910 off a fishing dock in Astoria, Oregon. Explain to students that these fish were sometimes called “June Hogs” for their size—close to that of a pig. Ask students how this fish compares to the 2013 fish. [Obviously, the salmon today are much smaller than in 1910.]

        1. Discuss some of the following reasons for the significant decline in both the amount and size of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and make note to students that whenever we make changes in the environment, there can be consequences to the ecosystem.

          1. Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942, and killed off an entire population because it blocked access to more than 1,100 miles of potential salmon spawning habitat.

          2. Salmon live in the ocean, but return to fresh water to lay eggs each year. If the freshwater streams or access to them are not available, they can’t reproduce. Any water diversion in the Pacific Northwest may have caused damage to these fish.

          3. Pollution in the waters or ground ends up in the water.

          4. Destruction of the habitat of other fish that the salmon eat reduces the food supply.

          5. Programs to save salmon such as hatcheries are producing a smaller fish than those found in 1910. Today’s salmon weigh 30 lbs. on average.

          6. If overfishing occurs, then the population can’t catch up to the demand, making the supply dwindle further.

        1. Instruct students to write a paragraph about what has happened to salmon over time and why, as well as suggest ways we can help increase the salmon population.

        For more lessons on the Chinook salmon, see Oregon Activities 3.4 and 8.4.

        For more on the Chinook salmon, see: June Hogs (Salmon), Oregon Encyclopedia.

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