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Students at Baldwin High School have been raising Malaysian pawns, catfish loach, and frogs in their aquaculture ponds. The ponds - with two more to be built this summer - sit on a slope of land and are terraced, sited on just a small part of the 4-1/2 acre agriculture, horticulture and animal farm at the school.
Ron Yonahara, the teacher who oversees the studies of 100 and more students on the farm, said the aquaculture project began last year on a visit to Waimea (Kauai) High School's "world garden” The Baldwin students began building the ponds last year.
ASKED WHY an aquaculture course, - Yonahara replied: "This is the thing now. With all this talk about population explosion, lack of food, and so on, we will go into aquaculture." The project first was limited to plants, but "the kids showed lots of interest in the animal aspect, and they started to bring, in the Malaysian prawns and o'opu, goldfish, limpets and frogs, so we started raising” plant and animal life, Yonahara said. He had wanted to grow rice because “99 per cent of the kids eat rice and haven't seen it growing." So, one pond has rice growing. Water lilies, taro and watercress are growing in the other three. The water lilies, Yonahara said, were from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The catfish - all 25 of them - were "imported" from the Mainland. The students caught the prawns themselves.
The project has not been without its natural problems - which became educational problems for the youngsters. First, the ponds were dug out of the soil and enclosed by hollow tile blocks, but because the campus soil is so sandy, the water drained. Yonahara and his students seemed to work fine, but they discovered there was not enough circulation and the water went stagnant quickly.
The pond bottoms now are lined with coral and cinder and burlap bags are placed over them. Pipes are run through the coral and cinder circulating the water. This keeps the water from going bad, but doesn't help the algae problem. The bright sun has made the algae grow profusely. The students now are thinking introducing a variety of fish, which eats algae.
WHEN THE, frogs were brought in, the dozen of them didn't have enough to eat because there was no light at night to attract the insects that frogs eat. The frogs were removed to were a special enclosure until the ponds can be fenced to prevent the frogs from getting out and lighting can be in stalled.
Each pond has a sign over it indicating what is being raised. The names are color-coded; plants are lettered in green; fish in black, Hawaiian or “local” names in red, scientific names in blue. Student guides taking elementary children on tours of the Baldwin farm now are pointing out the ponds.
Yonahara said the guides have been instructed to "be ready to jump in and pick up any kid who falls in, but the ponds are less than a foot deep." Potential mishaps aside, Yonahara said the summer project would be to have the two additional ponds and a Japanese-type waterfall built. Perhaps in the fall, the project will need even more ponds to accommodate the animal life the students will find this summer.
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