June 16, 2015
I woke up at 6:00AM refreshed and ready to start the day. We left the hotel around 7:00AM to pick up the rest of the team over in Hamilton where we me up last night. We got there around 7:30AM and assembled our team. There were three people from Fish and Wildlife Service: Jeff, Drew (who is in charge of the GIS database for our office) and myself. The other two members of our team were from the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) and their names were Rebecca (Becca) Bearden and Anne Wynn. Jeff, our fish identifier, was happy to have Becca on our team because she works under Dr. Patrick O’Neil so she also knew her fish and could help him out. We got everything in order and headed out to our first site.
Once we were there I offered to carry the back pack shocker. This site was better than the one yesterday. We got a higher number of fish species and higher abundances but this creek still showed damage from 4-wheler activity. I had a good time using the shocker and because I was wearing waders, I did not get shocked by it at all. At this site we also encountered a landowner and Jeff talked to him. He was curious about what we were doing but completely OK with having us out there, which was good. At this site Jeff was glad Becca was there not only because of her skills in identifying fish, but also because she decided to call me Dee when she had trouble pronouncing my name. I don’t mind that much when people mispronounce my name but he was feeling bad about messing it up. He was very relieved that I was alright with the nick name.
At the second site we switched up some jobs. Jeff, who had been on the seine team, took the shocker and I worked the seine with Anne who had been using a dip net. Becca took notes and both she and Drew were on dip nets. This site was worse than the first one. There were not very many fish and as we went up stream the habitat was not very good. It got hard for us to continue to move forward so we went back down stream of where we started. This part of the stream was only marginally better because we could not see what was in the water due to the sediment we had kicked up. This was a real problem because if the fish did get stunned by the shocker, we could not really see them before they got a hold of themselves and swam away. There was not much tree cover at this sight either so we were really ready to get out of there by the time we had finished the thirty efforts and two shorelines.
When we arrived at our third site I offered to take the back pack shocker again. This site was not very good either but I still had a fun time. Because of the lack of habitat, we mostly did shore line shocking with the dip nets. We mainly caught madtoms, only a few darters, and not much else. My thumb actually started to hurt from using the shocker in so many of the efforts. Efforts are attempts to get fish; anything from shocking them into the seine, hauling the seine across the bottom of the stream, to shocking in an area and dip netting, counts as an effort. It was a lot of thumb work which I was completely unprepared for— I should have played more video games beforehand.
When we were done with our third site we still had plenty of time to spare so Jeff decided that we should go for a fourth site. Becca took the shocker for this one and I was on the seine with Jeff. Working the seine was harder in this stream because it was deep with slick rocks and had a strong current which really pulled on the net. This was a nicer site and we surprisingly did not get many fish but we kept on going even though it was rough against that strong current. The site ended up taking about two hours to get it done. When we got back to the hotel we were told that there was a mix-up and someone had already completed that site (hence the lack of fish), but it’s always good to have more data to compare. It was a long day so right after eating dinner at the hotel I went back to my room and went to sleep.