Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 4: Nature in the City

(Or, “another day, another macroinvertebrate”)

We loaded up and headed off deep into the wilds of… Alexandria.

Traffic wasn’t too bad! We made decent time getting to the Cameron Run, a 4th order stream in an industrial area with a LOT of human impacts. Think runoff and flooding, channelization, sewage and pollutants (ick.) But many of our fishies and bugs are resilient: even in these rather cruddy conditions, some organisms thrive.

Our first survey of the day was at a section of the Cameron Run between two railway bridges. The lower bridge has a definite Planet of the Apes post-apocalyptic feel, complete with overgrown vine-girded tunnels.

By now, everyone knows the routine. We suited up, grabbed gear, and hopped into the Cameron Run.

We electrofished.

We found lots of fish… there were many larger fish in this stream.

We measured and recorded physical and chemical characteristics.

We searched (and searched) for macroinvertebrates; we found lots of worms.

Oh, and we hung out under a bridge.

After visiting the animal shelter to avail ourselves of the restrooms (and to make goo-goo eyes at the kittens) we hopped into the truck and the van and headed for our second site, the 3rd-order Holmes Run.

This creek is in a park, but still has many of the same issues as the Cameron Run. There are sewage and storm drain outfalls dumping into it. Upstream, the banks are clad in concrete, turning the streambed into a giant culvert. The water here is smelly and the rocks are coated with algae.

We did shocking-ID-counting-measuring-recording-collecting. There are environmental problems in this waterway, but some animals can live here. This shallow, cobble-strewn creek just can’t support a very diverse community. We found just a few species of small fishes and inverts (Gene and I have found this pattern each time we’ve sampled this site!)

After packing up the gear for the last time, tired and grubby and hungry, we went to my favorite restaurant, El Tipico, for a late but well-appreciated lunch.

Terry is afraid that the starving Deborah may eat her...

Jeanine is having a cheese malfunction...

And Amy is just glad that she could wash the amoebas off her hands!

Another evening of talking and planning and sharing resources and stories… but for some reason we were all so exhausted that we headed off to bed by 10:00. Maybe it has something to do with staying up until after 1:00 the night before…?

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