North Bend 5th grade classes learn about salmon

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- North Bend fifth graders headed for the fish hatchery on Wednesday, to get some hands on learning about the spawning process of a salmon.

The first step of the spawning process is getting in the pond and sorting the fish between male and female.

Kobe Johnson says the fish came a long way for his field trip. "They come from the Gulf of Alaska and it only takes 2 months for them to get back to our little river up in Coos Bay."

Since these students first started school, they had a chinook at their desk to name.

Now as fifth graders, they are getting their hands dirty helping in the spawning process. "Some of us are milking, some of us are getting the eggs out and some of us are just catching fish," said Johnson.

Through it all, they are learning about salmon, along with a lesson about the birds and the bees, fish style. "Females lay the eggs and the male salmon make milk to fertilize the egg," said fifth grader Natalie Cheal.

Step two is collecting the "milk and eggs," and there are a lot of eggs to collect. "Our collecting goal this Fall is about 2.6 million fall chinook eggs," said fish biologist Tom Rumreich.

Before long, the eggs will be fertilized to restart the cycle.

All salmon die after they spawn, so this is the end of their life.

The final step in the process at the hatchery is throwing the fish in the trailer, then they take the fish to a nearby river and dump them as part of a nutrient enrichment program.