Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Post: First Time River Snorkeling

As an intern at TNACI, I was recently given the opportunity to perform fieldwork with some of the aquarists from the Tennessee Aquarium. We traveled to the Tellico Plains area. Here, we focused on the Little Tennessee River and the Tellico River. Our goal was to collect fish for one of the River Journey exhibits.

The first place we stopped was the Little T River. Here, we used seine nets to catch shiners and darters. We mostly caught Saffron Shiners and Warpaint Shiners as well as some Rosyside Dace. There were also numerous sightings of Rainbow Trout of all sizes, suggesting they have moved into the area and are breeding.

Saffron Shiner.  Photo by Noel Burkhead
In order to catch other fish for the exhibit, we had to snorkel in the river with small hand nets. This seemed like a difficult and odd task at first, but snorkeling in shallow rivers is very exhilarating! Using this technique we were able to catch individuals from several darter species, including eight Tangerine Darters in the Tellico River

Tangerine Darter.  Photo by Conservation Fisheries, Inc.
My favorite part of the experience was discovering the diverse microhabitats of these river systems and which fish tend to be found where. I never knew there were so many colors to see! If given the chance, everybody should go snorkeling in a river, it is just as amazing as exploring a coral reef in the ocean.

--Sarah Candler, TNACI Intern

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