All In A Day's Work
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Sunset cuts across the lake surface. The water slapped the hull of my boat in two foot swells earlier today, but this evening it is smooth as glass after a 2:00 pm thunderstorm. An osprey circles overhead in air that smells renewed, cleared of humidity and rinsed by a breeze between soft evening clouds. I cut the motor and set up a pair of light traps to lower over the side. These traps are simple plexiglass boxes with carnival glow-sticks hung inside. They attract fish at night into a mesh net at the bottom, where they will be (hopefully!) held for us until tomorrow morning when we return to lift the traps and identify our prize. Before heading back to the dock, I pause for a moment, take a deep breath and can't help but smile in thanks to the universe, because I'm damn lucky that this is my office.

We are monitoring several imperiled endemic species in this lake -- they are found nowhere else in the world and so I feel priveledged to handle hundreds of them in a single day. Each is treated gently and released quickly to minimize stress so that they can return to their busy fishy lives no worse for wear. This lake is one of only two natural lakes in a state full of manmade reservoirs and as a result is chockablock full of unique fauna swimming, flying, crawling, and hopping all over the place.

These kinds of monitoring project sound routine, but they are really very important. Knowledge really IS power -- by learning about which areas and resources are most important to these fish, and others, and how population numbers change over time, we also learn which areas are most important to protect and thus get the most "bang for the buck." This data shapes a lot of decisions on a daily basis and can sometimes mean life or death for a population or even, in this particular location, an entire species.

Tomorrow, I dive into a blackwater river in hopes of collecting some baseline data about the types of freshwater mussels that live there. I hope this weekend or next week to have some pictures to share with you, wanderers -- this is an amazing place! Today's picture is from last year, one of the blackwater side canals near the boat ramp.

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1 comments:

On August 14, 2009 at 9:48 AM , lifeshighway said...

sigh, just beautiful... keep fighting the good fight for the rest of us.