Students help populate trout in Ontelaunee Creek
Last September, trout eggs were placed in an aquarium at Northwestern Lehigh Middle School.
By the middle of May, they were ready to face life in the wild as fingerlings.
Nestle Waters Deer Park and the Wildlands Conservancy come each year to help the students with a lesson on what lives naturally in Ontelaunee Creek before the fish are released in the water.
Magnifying glasses and microscopes are on tables and pans are filled with the macroinvertebrate animals found by the adults as they wait for the students.
This year, they found two crayfish which are larger at 2- to 3 inches than most of what would be researched.
John Leibold of Deer Park said it is great for kids to come out and help with the work.
Leibold is in charge of the natural springs and lives next to Hoffman Springs, located along Mountain Road.
Karrin Gariboli, public relations at the Wildlands Conservancy, said the fish are in the cooler were ready to be released. They were raised in a science classroom.
Brandon Swayser, a naturalist from Wildlands, told students the Ontelaunee Creek is part of the Delaware River Watershed. The creek flows to Maiden Creek to the Schuylkill River and Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay and the ocean.
The Wildlands Conservancy has preserved 50,000 acres of land and offers many recreational uses such as trails.
The water in creeks flows over rocks which helps keep the water cool. Various waters are given a biotic (living) index based on a collection of items.
Students were given lists of three classes of invertebrates: Class 1 needs clean water, Class 2 can tolerate some pollution, and Class 3 can survive in dirty water with little oxygen.
They learned they would have to be very careful not to hurt the tiny animals, and that they were going fishing with a spoon.
An animal was put in a dish with a very little water and then could be seen under a microscope. Some were viewed with the magnifying glasses.
The animals that were viewed were named and classified and points were assigned according to the classification. Thirty points meant good water.
Caddis and mayflies were the most abundant.
Seventh grade science teacher Beth Harwick usually feeds the fish while they are in the aquarium because it is easy to feed too much, and in a closed system, that quickly pollutes the water.
Stacie Wotring organized a trout bingo game in under the pavilion and another game, with predators and prey, on the open field.