A Blog about Everything

Friday, September 12, 2008

Scenes from my not-so-new job

This post was inspired by Laurie http://www.ichthyologistbright.blogspot.com/

who wrote about "Delta in Distress" and "Scenes from my new job". This is also a continuation of yesterday's post about the extinction of freshwater fishes. My career is being an aquatic biologist. I spent x years in graduate school and incurred 2000x dollars of debt to launch this career. It's been 10 years since I quit being a "student biologist" and became a "professional biologist". I've been at my current job for 5.5 of those years. Some days are better than others, like any job. Some days there seems to be hope that maybe what I'm doing will improve the aquatic environment. But problems are widespread and numerous.

Tile drains dump field run-off directly into waterways. Rumor has it that some of the older farm homes dispose of all their waste water (including sewage) this way too.

Who knows what was in this 55 gallon drum that was dumped into the river. I try to ignore it as I go about my business of collecting macroinvertebrates (one way we can assess the health of an aquatic ecosystem).

Stream-side trees and shrubs are good for aquatic ecosystem health. Mowing right up to the edge? Not so good. This was not a golf course.

Riverside land ends up in the river. Erosion produces sediment that smothers aquatic life and eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite all the problems, some relatively sensitive fish species are holding their own in many places. Here I am holding a rock bass that we electroshocked out of the Tippecanoe River, considered to be a priority for conservation by The Nature Conservancy. The fish was released alive immediately afterward.

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  • Now I'm so depressed! Except about the rock bass. That was cool. The only native Centrarchid in California, the Sacramento Perch, is no longer found in its native range (e.g. the Delta and tributaries), but is doing very well in stockponds and turbid lakes where introduced Centrarchids are not abundant.

    People not from the Midwest don't realize that everyone mows their lawn there so it looks like a golf course. I told someone who commented on it that it was the law once, and he believed me! I then tried the "Did you also know that the word 'gullible' isn't in the dictionary?" He didn't fall for that one.

    By Blogger Laurie, at 1:31 AM  

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