Seabeck team dreams of clean streams
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:26 AM
"There were plenty of fish in the Seabeck Elementary School Stream Team's net.But the small silver ones, little more than an inch long, were the treasures.We've got one with the yolk sack still on, said C.J. Moen, one of two seventh graders from Klahowya Secondary School on Seabeck's team. The younger students accompanying Moen and his classmate, Nick Holm, crowded in to see the infant coho salmon before they were counted and released back in the stream.But salmon were just part of what the Stream Team was after on its weekly monitoring of Seabeck Creek.While two students held the kick net, which they made from a net and two plastic poles, another rubbed stream rocks and stirred up the stream bottom to release bugs.The bugs, the color the water turns in the test tube, and the number of salmon they find tell the Stream Team how healthy the water is.And, according to Sue Antuna, on duty with the Stream Team March 29, We're finding that it's a pretty healthy stream.The Seabeck Alki Salmon Team, which started as an after-school club for children to learn about salmon and the environment, was the brainchild of Jerry Zumdieck.Since its beginning two years ago, the team has gone on to establish a reputation for its involvement with the community. The team is up for an award April 16 for its committment to the environment. The Kitsap County Commissioners chose it to receive the Earth Day award for youth achievement.Zumdieck was president of the school PTA when she was inspired to start the club.I met Ron Hirschi, who was our guest author. He picked up on my enthusiasm and said, 'you should do something,' Zumdieck said.I'm for the environment, and for kids, and I feel like the two are so connected, said Zumdieck, whose daughter Jessica, 12, is on the Salmon Team.So when you say 'salmon' to me, it's a broader term, an ecological force. It indicates that when they become endangered, there's something not right with the environment, Zumdieck said.Hirschi, a Port Townsend biologist who has written books about salmon, praised her involvment.She should win a national award for what she's done, he said. I've worked with lots of schools everywhere, and I've never encountered any person who's not a teacher ... with such a thoughtful environmental ethic.Measuring fish and testing water is only one Salmon Team activity. While eight Stream Teamers are busy with that task, others are practicing a slide show, making T-shirts to take to presentations, and getting ready for their next project.Zumdieck is helped by parents like Wendy Tonge, Heather Holm and Sue Antuna, who was on Stream Team duty that day. It was her charge to take the children, with Nick and C.J., to test the water, look for bugs and measure fish.Antuna's daughter Paige is on the Salmon Team and was a presenter at the recent Water Festival in Bremerton.I'd rather be outside than inside, doing this stuff, so I volunteered to be the Stream Team leader, she said.Lately we've been finding the level of phosphate in the water is high, so we've been testing further upstream, Antuna said as she walked with the children to the creek. Phosphate could come from detergent entering the stream. We plan to go further upstream, near the residential area, to figure out what's going on, she said.While C.J. and Nick maneuvered the net, the others gathered around Jon Day, checking the water and sorting out bugs found in the stream into sectioned trays.These guys do a great job here, said Day, a retired Olympic High School science teacher. The bugs are an indicator of how good, or bad, the water quality is, Day said. They check the bugs according to the Pollution Tolerance Index.Here we like to see May flies; May flies, Stone flies and Dobson flies are good, Day noted. The idea behind it is that certain bugs, such as May flies and cattis flies, will not tolerate dirty water.The more May flies and cattis flies (a salmon delicacy), the better.The next project for the Salmon Team is a candlefish study on the eastern side of Hood Canal this summer. The team is requesting a grant from the North Olympic Salmon Coalition for that project.Candlefish - also called sand lances - are a bait fish who live near the shore, Zumdieck said. The salmon team will be counting the fish, probably from kayaks.We're responsible for from DeWatto up to Little Anderson Creek, she said. It will be an important study to see what kind of count we get. "