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CHS Students Raise Trout

If the steelhead are ever to make the run up the Santa Ynez River to spawn again, Cabrillo High School students and faculty will be the ones who helped make it happen.

With the arrival of approximately 50 trout eggs at Cabrillo High School earlier this week, the school officially became the host to a trout hatchery.

"This is one more cross-curriculum project that is being instituted by the staff for the students," said Dave Long, faculty advisor for the Cabrillo Aquarium.

The project, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Fish and Game, the Central Coast Salmon Enhancement organization (CCSE), and Cabrillo High School, will have the students raising the trout until they are full-grown.

"It's a unique partnership," said Greg Eisen, faculty coordinator for the hatchery project. "We had expressed interest in creating a trout hatchery. It's a good opportunity for the students," he said.

Though similar projects have existed for quite a while in the northern part of the state, Cabrillo is now the southernmost program site.

"Currently, 24 organizations in the state sponsor 343 classrooms and more than 33,000 students," said Paul Cleveland, biological program manager for the CCSE.

According to Cleveland, Cabrillo was selected because it has the experience, equipment and initiative.

"They took the initiative to prepare themselves," he said. "They have the sophisticated equipment already, for the other schools we support, we supplied the equipment."

Eisen took the information and shopping list provided by the CCSE and prepared the tank for it's new occupants.

"They (CCSE) were telling us what we needed to do," Eisen said, "what kind of gravel we needed, what kind of water, the water temperature."

While students and faculty are hopeful, they acknowledged that they are not assured success.

"Raising trout is a hit or miss game," Eisen said.

It's Hit and miss because of the strict environmental conditions that are needed to allow the eggs to hatch and survive.

"There's no guarantee these fish are going to make it to adulthood," Eisen said.

In addition to monitoring the trout's development, students will also have to watch the water quality and keep track of the nutritional requirements of the fish.

Water quality is such a concern that Cabrillo solicited a local businessman to supply the water.

"Dave Long approached me with the idea and we created a partnership," said Bob Janecek, owner of Pure Water Water Store and Bottling Company. Janecek donated 160 gallons of his water that has less than 1 part per million foreign particles.

"It looks like they've got a real unique project and the kids seem real sincere," Janecek said.

Students will also be working to research whirling disease, a disease that is caused by a parasite and only strikes rainbow trout.

"Fish suffering from whirling disease end up swimming in circles," Eisen said.

Madison River in Montana is one place where whirling disease has broken out.

"Fifty miles of one of the most famous trout streams in the country has whirling disease," Long said. "We don't know how to stop it."

The students involved with the program were excited with the prospect of raising the trout.

"It's a learning experience," said Jeremy Cherry, a CHS senior. "I figured this would be a good experience to be involved with."

Others were involved with the project for more practical reasons.

"I'm a fisherman myself," said Matt Church, a CHS Junior. "I'd like to see their population grow."

Danny Richardson, an 11th grader at CHS, participated in the project for more capitalistic reasons.

"My brother is planning on opening a rainbow trout fish farm," Richardson said. He hopes that Cabrillo's project will give him the insight and experience he will need to make the business successful.