Pacific salmon can be found in the North Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea, southern Arctic Ocean and surrounding fresh water.

The Pacific salmon is naturally occurring in the North Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea through the Bering Strait, the southern Arctic Ocean and surrounding fresh water. Within British Colombia, it is found in close to 1,500 rivers and streams, most notably the Skeena River, the Nass River and the Fraser River. Some have been observed as far north as the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie River.

Canadian Geographic


© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


A pair of Pacific salmon swimming in British Columbia.

Scientific name: Oncorhynchus (5 Pacific salmon species in North America) Average weight: 1 kg–18 kg Average length: 50 cm–90 cm Average lifespan: 2–5 years Under the Oncorhynchus genus there are seven species of salmon, five of which are found in Canada. The Canadian species range widely in size and weight. Pink and sockeye tend to be at the smaller end of the scale (1kg–3kg) and chinook at the larger end (6kg–18kg), with chum and coho in the middle range (4kg–7kg).

iStockphoto/MarvinBeatty


© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Driftwood piled along the rocky West Coast is a common sight in the northwestern forest.

The area designated the northwestern forest ecozone for this virtual exhibit runs from the Alaska Peninsula down the coast to northern California. Inland it includes the southern region of the Yukon, most of British Columbia and the section of the Rockies that lies in Alberta. There is one tiny patch straddling a small southern portion of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Further south, it stretches out over parts of the northwestern United State and Colorado.

iStockphoto/MarisolO'Brien


© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Teacher

Introduction

Ask students questions about the Pacific salmon to assess their knowledge of the species prior to the lesson. (Examples include: How many species of Pacific salmon in BC? Names? Difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon? Migration patterns?)

Inform students that they will be using several resources to learn more about the Pacific Salmon.

Distribute the student activity sheet, the Canadian Geographic article and place a copy of the poster map somewhere in the classroom. (All of the other required resources are accessible through the Internet.)

Review the instructions and decide if students will work individually or in partners.

Lesson Development

Monitor and provide assistance to students as they complete the activity.

Conclusion

Option A: Conduct a class discussion of the students’ findings.
Option B: Collect the responses for assessment.

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Teacher

Introduction

Ask students questions about the Pacific salmon to assess their knowledge of the species prior to the lesson. (Examples include: How many species of Pacific salmon in BC? Names? Difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon? Migration patterns?)

Inform students that they will be using several resources to learn more about the Pacific Salmon.

Distribute the student activity sheet, the Canadian Geographic article and place a copy of the poster map somewhere in the classroom. (All of the other required resources are accessible through the Internet.)

Review the instructions and decide if students will work individually or in partners.

Lesson Development

Monitor and provide assistance to students as they complete the activity.

Conclusion

Option A: Conduct a class discussion of the students’ findings.
Option B: Collect the responses for assessment.

Student

Introduction
Participate in class discussion.
Refer to Student Activity Sheet instructions. Ask questions for clarification.

Lesson Development
Complete all three sections of the Student Activity worksheet.

Conclusion
Participate in the discussion or submit the completed assignment.

Lesson Extension
This lesson could serve as an introduction to a larger research project. Students could choose one issue affecting Pacific salmon to investigate. Potential research topics include:
• Aquaculture
• Climate Change
• Invasive Species
• Habitat destruction
• Overfishing
• Toxins in Watersheds

• Student activity worksheet

• Student access to the following websites:
o Canadian Geographic Kids
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/kids/animal-facts/salmon.asp
o Vancouver Aquarium AquaFacts
http://www.vanaqua.org/education/aquafacts/salmon.html
o Canadian Geographic Virtual Exhibition Pacific Salmon Range Map
• Canadian Geographic poster map “Wildlife migrations of North America”
• Canadian Geographic, December 2009 issue, “Something’s Fishy in the Fraser”, p21-22

Collect the student activity worksheet and assess for completeness and accuracy.

• Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/species-especes/salmon-saumon/index-eng.htm
• Pacific Salmon Foundation: http://www.psf.ca/

Essential Element #3: Physical Systems
• Components of Earth’s physical system (Biosphere)
Essential Element #5: Environment and Society
• Use and sustainability of resources
Geographic Skill #2: Acquiring Geographic Information
• Systematically locate and gather geographic information from a variety of primary and secondary sources.
Geographic Skill #3: Organizing Geographic Information
• Select and design appropriate forms of graphs, diagrams, tables and charts to organize geographic information.

Overview
In this three-part lesson, students will have the opportunity to learn about the physiology and characteristics of the Pacific salmon. They will investigate the location and range of the Pacific salmon in Canada. Finally, they will use a case study of the Fraser River to investigate reasons for low salmon return rates in the region.

Main Objective
The primary objective of this lesson is for students to understand and appreciate the complexities of our interactions with Pacific salmon.

Curriculum Connection
British Columbia, Grade 12 Geography

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
• Describe several characteristics of the Pacific salmon.
• Locate and identify the range of the Pacific salmon using maps. Compare with another species in the Pacific Northwest.
• Explain and analyse possible threats to Pacific salmon migrating through the Fraser River watershed.

• Grade Level:
• 9-12 (secondary school)

• Time Required:
• One sixty minute class

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The primary objective of this lesson is for students to understand and appreciate the complexities of our interactions with Pacific salmon.

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