My students are working with our state's DNR to help restore native lake trout populations in our area. We are currently raising 650 lake trout eggs in our classroom and will be releasing them in the spring. My students have developed a plan to deliver these lake trout directly to the reef.
My students are ambitious watershed stewards, working to help sustain their local fresh water resources.
Recently the DNR and the EPA have been working on a joint project, in our area, to restore spawning reefs for lake trout. Years of manufacturing waste were used to fill local waterways and covered natural spawning reefs. In an effort to provide lake trout a new spawning area, and to help restore lake trout populations, new reefs were created. My students were asked to participate in researching ways to acclimate hatchery raised lake trout to the artificial reefs. For the last three years my students have been raising lake trout and releasing them on the new reefs, in hopes that they will acclimate to the reef and and return as adults to spawn. The problem is that we are not sure how many actually reach the safety of the reef. We believe that if the young fry reach the reef they will have a much better chance to survive to adulthood. This is why we decided to use underwater robots.
For the last two years we have been releasing the lake trout fry at the surface, and hoping that they make the journey to the reef below. The students have contacted local research scientists and engineers, and have been working with them to develop a plan. In order to Teach for the Planet, the parts that my students are requesting will be used to engineer two underwater robots, that will be outfitted with two small tanks, that will hold about seventy-five lake trout fry. Each robot will require five motors, one linear actuator, and a grabber, in order to manipulate objects underwater. The actuator will be used to operate the grabber and trigger the door on the lake trout container. Each underwater robot will be able to transport the lake trout fry to the depth of twenty-five feet, to a limestone reef, and mechanically release the door on the holding tanks, with the actuator. This will allow the lake trout fry to immediately swim into the protective cracks and crevices of the limestone reef.
This project is not only a great learning opportunity for my students, but it will help in understanding the behavior of young lake trout fry.
We want to know if the lake trout fry will use the artificial reef in the same way as native lake trout fry. We know our project is ambitious, but we have the support and technology capable of helping our community restore lake trout populations.
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