Students trying to determine if trout can survive in the Augusta Canal got part of their question answered Tuesday.
“I think it’s marginal, but it’s doable,” said Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School science teacher Carl Hammond-Beyer.
About 1,000 tiny fry hatched by Leesa Lyles’ class at Warren Road Elementary School were placed into the canal last June in a special cage, where they were observed and fed during the warmest months of the year.
Although mortality was heavy as the fish began to grow larger, and fed on one another, students concluded their experiment Tuesday with the release of the 11 surviving fish.
“These fish are about seven inches long, and considering they were hatched April 16, that’s a pretty good growth rate,” Hammond-Beyer said.
Space in the submerged cage was a limiting factor, he added, but so were factors including low oxygen levels that accompanied extended, heavy rains.
Lyles said the experiment will be repeated later this year and might possibly include the release of newly hatched grout fry directly into the canal.
Hammond-Beyer, meanwhile, said students are working to re-design the trout holding tank for better results in future experiments.
The eventual objective, he said, is to collect data to prove to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that the canal could support trout sufficiently to allow a recreational fishery.