Before local students show up at Fauntleroy Creek in the spring to set salmon fry free, they spend months tending to and studying in-school aquariums – and today’s the day it all begins anew. Volunteers Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland have spent the day ferrying more than a thousand salmon eggs from a regional hatchery to 10 schools in West Seattle and South Park. We caught them at the first one they visited, Our Lady of Guadalupe:
As they made each delivery, disinfecting the eggs in an iodine bath before they could be placed in their hatching tanks, they talked with students, who were fascinated to see what would eventually hatch into coho:
From OLG, they went to nearby West Seattle Elementary, where their visit was shorter, since they volunteer at WSES regularly. But this school has something extra-special – a tank and ornate base, courtesy of Phil:
We had to photograph it before the students crowded around, so you could see the art.
Judy and Phil live on Fauntleroy Creek, and have a deep devotion to this program – almost four years ago, we reported on their resolve to keep it going despite state budget cuts. As explained at the time, it’s not that this is making a big dent in the salmon population, but it is helping keep fish and creeks top of mind every year for a new group of students who will grow into the adults on whose actions the fish’s fate will rise and fall. Meantime, these eggs will hatch soon, and the fish will grow for a few months in the tanks in school hallways and classrooms, before creek releases in spring.