JAY – Third- and fourth-graders, each holding a covered cup with water and a trout fry in it, paraded by kindergartners and first-graders cheering “Goodbye, fishies” Friday.
As the older children stood in line to get their fish, Rob Taylor, the gifted and talented instructor, told them it was their responsibility to take care of the fish until they got to the brook.
The children carried their fish to the bus for the short ride through town to the brook, then got off the bus, and one by one emptied the fish into the brook.
Instead of being sad, the children celebrated the chance for the fish to swim free.
Jay Elementary School students had raised the brook trout from eggs since December under the supervision of Taylor.
Of 300 eggs given to Taylor by the state for the project, 130 trout fry grew to 1 inches and weighed 7 grams in a 135-gallon tank with a three-quarter horsepower chiller to keep the water at 49 degrees Fahrenheit. But now it was time to let them go in James Brook in East Jay, which feeds Little Parker Pond.
In the beginning, they put one pinch of food in the tank, and then it went to 2.2 grams, and most recently it was 8 grams, Jacob Luce, one of the third-graders in charge of feeding the fry, said Friday.
Noah Parker, another third-grader, said the fish had grown to about 3 inches.
“It took them a while to grow,” Luce said.
Taylor’s daughter, fourth-grader Emily Taylor, said Friday that she and her father and brother went in December to pick up the eggs at Governor. Hill Hatchery in Augusta.
About 23 eggs died, she said.
The fish hatched in January with some dying and at least one having two heads, which was well documented with a photo on the timeline posted on the wall outside the library near the tank. The two-headed fish, which was smaller than the others, died a couple weeks later.
In February, the fry weighed 0.12 grams each and they continued to grow, Kayla Meserve said Friday.
Then a fungus hit and many fish died.
Taylor said they tried scraping the fungus off but it didn’t clear up until they treated the water with salt.
They didn’t lose any of the 130 fish after that, her father said.