Monday, March 27, 2023

Williams students study vitamin deficiency in salmon

Williams Jr/Sr High School sophomores and juniors gather at the Feather River on Feb. 15, 2023 after releasing baby Chinook salmon used to study B1 deficiencies into the Feather River.

Science students at Williams Jr/Sr High School in the 10th and 11th grade classes of Scott Stephens and Patricia Sims have been participating in the project “Youth Monitoring of Salmon Thiamine,” offered through the Researchers at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), together with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The project was overseen by Peggy Harte, M.Ed, UCD Youth Education Program Director; Stacey R. Garrett MPA, Director, GEAR UP Rural Valley Partnership UC Davis School of Education; Angelica Garcia, Gear Up Advisor; and Sarah Angulo, Community Education and Outreach Specialist Center for Community and Citizen Science, UC Davis School of Education.

The project started in December, with schools receiving fertilized eggs from one of 30 Feather River King Salmon (Chinook).

This was a blind study and the observations and data collected was shared with several other schools and students throughout Northern California. This was a citizen science project to track the impacts of potential thiamine (Vitamin B1 an essential building block for all life) deficiency through youth classrooms. Data will be reported from each classroom weekly as students monitor how salmon eggs in tanks hatch (or not) and grow.

Thiamine Deficiency Complex (TDC) was first documented in California’s salmon in 2020. Fish hatchery staff noticed offspring swimming in circles and dying at elevated rates. They traced the condition to a deficiency of thiamine, or Vitamin B1, passed on from the returning adults to their offspring. Impacts to naturally spawning populations remain the greatest unknown and could be an unrecognized factor affecting harvest opportunities and impeding salmon recovery.

Students were taught to use observation protocol as part of the Salmon in the Classroom Program to help gather observation data of salmon during these critical stages of the life cycle. This data will support the efforts of the broad coalition of scientists working on figuring out the TDC puzzle. By submitting data and participating in this project, students are supporting not only the data gathering for these programs, but also the development of further research protocols.

Williams students concluded the study with the release of the baby salmon into the Feather River and field trip to the Oroville Dam Fish Hatchery on Wednesday, February 15. Students were shown the facilities and were able to see the process of tagging and monitoring of these salmon. Sources: NOAA Science and Fisheries. ■

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