Science research class continues study of local walleye population with grant support

The science research class at Broadalbin-Perth Jr./Sr. High School continued its study of the walleye population in the Great Sacandaga Lake this fall with the support of a grant from the Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region. The class, taught by biology teacher Brian Henry, used grant funds to purchase equipment to catch walleye, collect tissue samples, store the samples, and have the tissue samples analyzed.

The study the students completed this fall was done in collaboration with the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation (GSLFF), which regularly stocks the lake with hatchery-produced juvenile walleye. The purpose of the BPHS study was to determine whether the stocked walleye are contributing to the population of walleye in the lake.

This fall, Henry took his students out on the lake several times on the district’s pontoon boat to collect more than 80 tissue samples from different walleye around the Great Sacandaga Lake. The samples were shipped to a lab at the University of West Virginia for analysis and genetic comparison to samples collected from stock walleye. Results from these tissue samples are expected in January.

“The science research course offers our students an opportunity to engage in real science, collect real data, and work with professional agencies such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,” Henry said. “To be able to do this kind of work on a ‘floating classroom’ on the Great Sacandaga Lake is providing them with an experience like no other.”

Last year, students in the science research class studied the length and age of walleye in the Sacandaga Lake, discovering that the average length of 5-year-old walleye in the Sacandaga is nearly three inches shorter than the state average. Henry said there are a number of variables that could be causing the stunted growth, including lack of food, competition with other species of fish, and parasites found in harvested walleye.