David G Brown, Student Technican
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Posted on July 15, 2011 | Permalink
Student Technican Experience - Week 3
Location: New Germany State Park
This week was my third week working as for the Fisheries Service and it was a week full of electrofishing. The beginning of the week started out in Western Maryland in New Germany State Park. Ashley, another intern, and I went electrofishing with Alan Heft and other Fisheries biologists. It was a big operation and Ashley and I helped them do a population study on brook trout in Big Run, a relatively small stream that runs through the park. Brook trout are the only native trout species in Maryland and the trout populations seem to be decreasing so the biologists do a population study every year to see how well they are doing. The biologists tag, weigh, and measure the trout that is caught and Ashley and I got to assist them. On Monday, for the first half of the day I was helping with the tagging process. My job was to fetch fresh water for the fish while the trout were waiting to get tagged. I had to almost constantly get fresh water for the trout because it was pretty warm outside and if the water that the trout were in got too warm, the trout will get stressed and possibly die. Trout only can live in cold water. I also had the simple but important job of putting the adipose fin from the trout in the correct numbered vial. The adipose fin is a small meaty appendage on trout and some other fish, and it is located between the dorsal fin and the tail fin. The biologists had to cut of the small fin so they could get a DNA sample to find out the genetics of the fish. Cutting the adipose fin does not harm or kill the fish. Putting the adipose fin in the correct vial was a pretty important job because all the vials are numbered with the fishís tag number so if someone put the fin in the wrong vial, it would ruin the whole process. The second half of Monday, I switched jobs with Ashley so I could help Alan Heft release the trout back in the areas the trout were caught. It was a fun but tiring job because you had to carry 5 gallon buckets full of fish and water a good distance and its pretty tiring walking in waders. I enjoyed that job though because I liked to see where the fish swam to once I released them. They usually swam to a submerged log or a shady spot. Near the end of the day I also got to set up block nets. Block nets are set up at both ends of the sampling site so that the fish canít swim out of the area when they get startled. On Tuesday, Ashley and I got to work together and we were both electrofishing the same stream with John Mullicanís crew. There were two crews electrofishing the same stream so one crew would do a site and when they were done they would go to the site above the other crew. My job mostly was holding the bucket that they put the fish in but I also got to net the fish for a little while. We electrofished about seventeen 50 meter sites and did at least two passes to make sure we got the majority of the fish out of the site. Both crews caught a good amount of trout that day, around 400, but I was told they caught more last year. We did catch a lot of fish that were already tagged so that was good sign. It was a good experience and Iím glad I got the opportunity to go.
On Thursday, I was electrofishing with the Maryland Biological Stream Survey in Harford county. I assisted them with electrofishing Winters Run which is a small river that is close to the bay. I got to hold the bucket as usual and net which I liked. The only difference about this trip from the other electrofishing trips is that the Maryland Biological Stream Survey keeps every animal that they shock up. They werenít just looking for one species. We caught a lot of different species of fish; catfish, bass, shiners, crayfish, perch, a ton of eels and lampreys, and a lot of minnows. We had to identify all the animals that were caught then weighed them all collectively. The team also looked at the plant species that were in the area and recorded the invasive species of plants that were there. After, we were done with Winters Run we headed out to a larger body of water Deer Creek. The team was searching for darters in Deer Creek but we didnít catch any on the first pass so we were done for the day.
Overall, it was another good week working as a Student Technical Assistant for the Fisheries Service. I learned a lot and got a lot of good experience.