Primary school pupils in West Cumbria learnt about the lifecycle of Atlantic salmon by recreating the perilous journey the fish make from the ocean to spawn in Cumbria’s rivers.
140 pupils from Ashfield Junior School in Workington and Seaton St Paul’s C of E Junior School took part in a Fish Olympics obstacle course, making their way upstream to find the right habitat to lay their eggs.
The activity was part of a two-day rivers lesson run by West Cumbria Rivers Trust and the National Trust at the National Trust’s Dunthwaite site near Cockermouth.
The youngsters also took part in river dipping and learnt to build leaky dams, used to improve freshwater habitat and slow the flow of water during storms while still allowing fish passage upstream.
Cathy Gruba, learning and engagement officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “Thank you to everyone that took part, especially the children who were very enthusiastic! The obstacle course was a great way for them to understand the incredible journey the salmon make from the Atlantic ocean to our rivers here in West Cumbria.”
Hannah Haydock, project co-ordinator for the National Trust’s Riverlands project, said: “Atlantic Salmon are a key species for conservation in the River Derwent and it was wonderful to see the children so enthusiastic about getting stuck in to the activities on the day. Thank you to everyone who was involved in making the day special.”
Richard Bishop, deputy head at Ashfield Junior School, said: “The children loved the three activities they participated in, particularly the Fish Olympics which was a lot of fun.
“Our visits were a great opportunity for outdoor learning, moving from what could have been merely theoretical to a practical and sensory learning experience. It was lovely to see the learning and discovery taking place at such a beautiful riverside site.
“We are very grateful to Cathy and her team for making us feel so welcome and for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with us.”
Laura Fergie, year six teacher at Seaton St Paul’s C of E Junior School, said: “Our children fully enjoyed taking part in the Fish Olympics.
“The session was informative yet engaging with a competitive element and lots of practical opportunities. The day has inspired our children to think more about their local environment and what lives there.”
The event was made possible by International Year of the Salmon funding from the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO).