Kristen suited up!

Kristen suited up!

The sun sets on another day in the field and it’s time to get back to the office. Tomorrow we will backpack electrofish. I love electrofishing but this time Kristen isn’t going to be there. WHAT? You might say! Sadly, more often than not Kristen has been in the office doing what project managers do – OFFICE WORK.

For those who have no idea what electrofishing is – or think it’s like fishing with dynamite – well, it’s not. We use a Halltech backpack unit. It sends out an electrical impulse that we adjust according to different parameters. For instance, some water is more conductive, and therefore we lower the settings so that we don’t harm the fish.

The idea is to lightly stun the fish just long enough to scoop them gently into the net. Once captured, they are bucketed, sorted, weighed, measured, and counted – then photographed! That’s a rough day for small fish so we handle them as carefully as possible.

Of course fish aren’t the only things in the water! Frogs are terribly sensitive to electricity and react immediately by jumping out of the water. Snakes and sirens hide in the mud. Crayfish get stunned rather easily as well. The one thing that doesn’t seem to respond at all to our shocking is ALLIGATORS!! We have come across a small gator that had been in a shallow pool that stuck to the bottom the entire time without any indication that it was affected.

The neat part is seeing what you caught. You might be surprised to find ten different species of beautiful fish in a nasty mud puddle. So before you think of shrinking puddles as nothing more than yesterday’s creek, take a look at some of the things we find!

Spotted sunfish

Greater Siren – Florida’s largest amphibian

Everglades pygmy sunfish

Golden topminnow

Sailfin Molly

That’s right – we find greater sirens!