The Lesson - Canadian Geographic

Where have all the Salmon Gone?
Lesson Overview
In this lesson, students will participate in a simulation activity that illustrates the lifecycle of
salmon in order to appreciate the different obstacles that they confront during their lifetime.
They will assess the impact of climate change on the salmon industry and evaluate both the
economic risks and opportunities associated with these changes.
Grade Level
Grade 10
Time Required
Two 60 minute periods
Curriculum Connection
Manitoba – Geographic Issues of the 21st Century
Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required
Access to a whiteboard, blackboard or chart paper
Background Information from the Seymour Salmonid Society
Canadian Geographic/NRTEE A Changing Climate poster-map.
Long skipping rope
Ground markers like pylons
½ of a football field or large playing field area
One pair of very large winter boots or two old car tires
100 pennies
Salmon Life Cycle Game - Appendix A
Main Objective
Students will understand some of the factors associated with the decline of the Pacific
salmon population in Southern British Columbia and how they may be affected by climate
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students will:
Understand the steps involved in the spawning cycle of salmon;
Explain why the Pacific salmon are threatened in Southern British Columbia;
Describe how climate change may impact the Pacific salmon industry.
The Lesson
The Lesson
Teacher Activity
Ask the class what they know
about the life cycle of a fish. Write
these answers on a white board,
black board or chart paper.
Student Activity
Share answers to the
introductory questions.
Next, ask them if they know of any
fish that migrate in order to spawn.
Write these answers on the white
Explain that in the course of this
lesson, the class will learn more
about the Pacific salmon and some
of the factors that are affecting its
well-being and ability to spawn.
Indicate that students will be
challenged to see where issues
related to climate change affect the
well-being of Pacific salmon.
Provide some background
information on the life cycle of the
Pacific salmon.
Listen to the background
Use the Seymour Salmonid Society
website as a resource for this
information. Focus on this excerpt
from the site:
‘The Ocean phase is the phase
which we know the least about and
it seems that the early part of the
ocean phase is very important for
overall fish survival.’
Pose the question: “How will
climate change affect the ocean?”
Direct students to use the
Canadian Geographic/NRTEE A
Changing Climate poster-map to
answer the question. Students
should list the potential impacts to
the ocean environment and salmon
and at what temperatures these
changes are predicted to occur.
Use the Canadian
Geographic/NRTEE A
Changing Climate postermap to list the potential
impacts to the ocean
environment and salmon
and at what temperatures
these changes are
predicted to occur.
Follow the directions in Appendix A
to explain the Salmon Life Cycle
game to the class.
Participate in the salmon
life cycle game.
The class should play the game at
least three times in order to have
reliable data to analyse.
Ask several concluding questions
following the Salmon Life Cycle
How did they feel the
activity went?
Were they surprised by the
data obtained?
Where did they feel the
most salmon were lost in
the activity?
What would happen if there
were no obstacles?
Use the Canadian
Geographic/NRTEE A
Changing Climate postermap to identify additional
risks and opportunities
relevant to the salmon
lifecycle and the fisheries.
Respond to the questions.
Lesson Extension
Conduct research about the way that different species of fish breed [there are two
main strategies that fish use: egg laying/spawning and live bearing] and what the
required oceanic/water environments are.
Research how climate change will affect the Atlantic and inland fisheries in Canada.
Visit a local fish farm. (Some examples in Manitoba include: Two Fish Pond,
Blumenort; Valley Fish Farm, La Riviere; Agassiz Aqua Farm, Selkirk.)
Assessment of Student Learning
Students can be assessed based on their participation in the classroom discussion
and their involvement in the game.
Further Reading
Climate Prosperity thematic module in the Canadian Atlas Online:
National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) web site:
Seymour Salmonid Society – Life Cycle of the Salmon:
Link to Canadian National Standards for Geography
Essential Element#2: Places and Regions
Physical and human processes shape places and regions
Changes in places and regions over time
Critical issues and problems of places and regions
Essential Element #5: Environment and Society
Global effects on the human environment by changes in the physical environment
Environmental issues (e.g. global warming)
Use and sustainability of resources
Geographic Skill #4: Analyzing geographic information
Make inferences and draw conclusions from maps and other geographic
Use the process of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and explanation to interpret
geographic information for am variety of sources.
Geographic Skill #5: Answering geographic questions
Apply geographic models, generalizations and theories to the analysis, interpretation
and presentation of geographic information.
Salmon Life Cycle Game
Appendix A
1. Each student will have a role in the salmon life cycle game. Ask students to think
about these two questions as they play the game:
What are the risks to the salmon of a warming ocean due to climate change?
How could climate change be both an economic risk and an economic opportunity?
2. Choose two students to represent a turbine generator. They will turn the long
skipping rope to simulate a turbine. If students touch the turbine they will go
upstream, they are dead.
3. Choose two students to represent predators. Place one predator on each side of the
turbines at the beginning of the game. When they catch a salmon, they will send
them downstream. Later in the game, once all the salmon have gone through the
turbines or been caught, they will move to the other side of the falls and will catch
the salmon just before they make it to the spawning grounds.
4. Choose two students to be fishermen. They will wear one large boot each or a spare
tire around their waists. They are fishing for salmon. When the salmon are caught,
they are out of the game and must leave the playing field.
5. All other students will be salmon.
1. All the salmon will start at the turbine. In order to clear it, they must go underneath
the skipping rope. The two students who are working the rope must keep it moving
consistently at a good speed. As soon as a salmon dies in the turbine, it will become
part of the migratory lane that the other salmon must go over.
2. After the turbine, salmon are exposed to predators that must catch them with two
hands in order to kill them. They are not permitted to just touch them with one or
two hands. Predators must then escort the salmon to the migratory lanes where they
will go down on their hands and knees. Salmon must jump over them to get to the
spawning regions.
3. Once in the ocean, fishermen can catch salmon. In order to get to the spawning
grounds, a salmon must collect 4 pennies, which represent four years of growth. As
soon as the salmon has collected 4 pennies, he/she can then start the climb to the
spawning zone. Salmon must go across the entire ocean to the opposite side in order
to accumulate pennies.
4. If fishermen catch a salmon, he/she too must take his/her catch to the migratory
lanes before returning to the ocean.
5. Once a salmon has collected 4 pennies, he/she must go over one of the migratory
lanes to reach the spawning grounds. While the salmon are in the migratory lanes,
predators cannot catch them.
6. Once through the migratory lane, the salmon must then jump over the falls. The
students who were turning the skipping rope (turbine) will move to the jump in order
to ensure that the salmon are truly jumping over the falls. The space that you leave
for the falls should be realistic, about 1.5 meters in width. If the salmon don’t make
it, they must go back to the migratory lanes and try again.
7. After the salmon have successfully made it over the falls, the two predators from the
beginning of the game will now represent bears, the final obstacle for the salmon,
before they reach the spawning grounds. If the bears catch them, which they must
do with two hands, the bears must escort the salmon to the migratory lanes.
8. The game is done when all the salmon have either died or made it to the spawning
1/2 the Pennies
migratory lane
Bear 2
migratory lane
migratory lane
migratory lane
Fisherman 2
migratory lane
Bear 1
Turbine 2
Predator 2
Fisherman 1
Turbine 1
Predator 1
1/2 the Pennies