Salmon spawn learning at Bainbridge's Sakai Intermediate School

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Intermediate school students release salmon for 10th year.

One-by-one, Sakai Intermediate School students stooped at a creekside at the base of a tangled ravine near the school this week, and let tiny salmon fry skitter from plastic cups into the brisk current.

The sixth graders releasing the chum salmon will be in high school by the time they return – that’s if the fish can survive a world filled with predators, fisherman and pollution. Of the 16,000 salmon the school is releasing into Manitou Creek this month, it will be a rousing success if just 100 find their way back to the island.

“I want you to believe that the one you put in, the one you hold in your hand, will be the one that comes back,” school librarian Kathleen Ellison told students during a release Tuesday. “You know the odds are greatly stacked against them.”

This year Sakai students have been working to make those odds a little better.

Sixth graders have been been studying how stormwater runoff can pollute Puget Sound with chemicals and excessive nutrients.

In an effort to raise awareness, the students designed colorfully illustrated door hangers to distribute in their neighborhoods. The hangers included practical tips for reducing contaminated runoff, including washing cars with natural cleaners or at commercial washes, scooping dog poop and considering gravel instead of pavement for driveways.

Students are also circulating a poll to gauge the public’s knowledge of stormwater issues. Results from the poll will be presented to the city.

Ellison said the school’s 10th annual salmon release is bringing the study alive for students.

“It all relates to our salmon, because we need a clean, clear stream for the salmon to return to,” Ellison said.

Download Sakai stormwater brochures and participate in a poll at Sakai's stormwater project site.

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