Buskin River crayfish may wreak havoc on the area’s ecosystem, but teacher John Malloy and his fourth grade class tried to make the best of a bad situation through learning.
On Tuesday, Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak biologist Kelly Krueger joined Malloy’s class at Peterson Elementary to lead students through a dissection of signal crayfish captured in the Buskin River watershed.
Signal crayfish are an invasive species at the Buskin, and researchers are particularly concerned about the impact they may have on salmon.
The dissection ties in to student learning on predators in the water and their anatomy, Malloy said.
The crayfish dissections also served as a lead up to additional dissections the class will perform later this year. They will also dissect a shark and salmon, he said.
Student reactions to the crayfish dissection varied, from one student who said she felt like a doctor to another who said the crayfish smelled a lot like teriyaki sauce.
Parents were also invited to participate. One dad said he was there to support his son and do something fun.
For Krueger, the class was an opportunity to educate children on invasive species and the work undertaken by Sun’aq to research how they are changing the local ecosystem.
“Invasive species get here somehow. We’re not sure how the signal crayfish got here, but I think educating kids from a young age on what’s an invasive species and how they can help is really important,” she said.