Science and Fishing

In British Columbia, estuaries have, and continue to be, a cornerstone of Indigenous Peoples territory. Estuaries, including the Skeena River estuary, are nursery habitats, where ocean bound salmon smolts adjust to seawater and prepare for their migration at sea. Salmon are a culturally iconic species which support most Indigenous communities throughout coastal BC spiritually, culturally, economically, ecologically and socially. For millennia, Ts’msyen people have been, and continue to closely interact, observe, study, monitor, and record the processes and cycles of estuary environments within their territory. This comprehensive Ts’msyen knowledge of estuaries includes details of the biological production and renewal of natural systems. This strong cultural connection to place contributes to long-term Indigenous knowledge that is a valuable part of the overall understanding of the ocean.

A major influence on estuaries is the density of water, which is influenced by the water's temperature and salinity. These differences in density can cause different water masses to resist mixing together, creating different layers of temperature or salinity within the ocean. Thus as river water and ocean water meet at the estuary, the two water masses begin to interact. Throughout this lesson students will use western science principles to gain an understanding of density and then explore how the Ts’msyen people used their ecological knowledge to successfully harvest and transport caught fish up the estuary in an interactive activity.

Click on the link for the full lesson:  Science and Fishing

Materials needed for activity:

  • Tin foil - one per student
  • Small weights - marbles, pennies or nuts and bolts
  • Foam or rubber washers
  • Basin of fresh water
  • Basin of salt water 
  • Slotted spoon
  • scale - optional


Helpful links:

Grade Level

  • High School
  • Middle School


Author Name: 

Ocean Networks Canada & Aboriginal Education SD 52

Updated Date

Oct 31, 2017 2:25pm PDT

Created Date

Oct 31, 2017 2:08pm PDT