Happy Holidays folks!
It has been a long field season! It may finally be over. Pat and crew just returned from Shoal Creek and the vicinity of the Elk River. We still had some boulder darters and spotfin chub destined for Shoal Creek that needed to be released!
These are now happily (we hope!) swimming in Shoal Creek! We have made several monitoring trips to Shoal Creek this year. This year included a float trip that extended down into Alabama. Dr. Carol Johnston and some of her class from Auburn University (and some lovely, much younger ladies somehow related to Carol!) accompanied CFI staff on that trip. As a result, we now know that boulder darters and spotfin chub have made it downstream into Alabama! We continue to find essentially all age classes of boulder darters in the creek. Spotfin chub are still difficult to locate but seem to be reproducing and moving around the stream. The real problem with finding spotfins in there is that there is SO MUCH great looking habitat! And there are SO MANY other benthically oriented minnows in there. Talk about a needle in a haystack! And, visibility is rarely great in Shoal Creek, making it doubly difficult to pick these guys out from the thousands of other minnows. More often than not, it's behavioral habits that cue the searcher to have a second look! Picking out a couple small spotfin chubs from a school of hundreds is not for the faint of heart! Especially when you're hanging on, facing downstream in shallow, very swift water over slick bedrock! Not easy!!
After they released these yesterday, they headed over to the Elk River system to collect boulder darters destined to produce little boulder darters destined for Shoal Creek! They were successful, collecting our limit as outlined in our federal permit. Those are now in quarantine tanks back at the hatchery and look well this morning!
Other important findings include new localities for yellowfin madtoms in the Clinch River in Virginia, as well as new ashy darter records for the Clinch. We are seeing outstanding numbers of reintroduced yellowfin and smoky madtoms in Abrams Creek and the Tellico River. Citico darters too! Spotfin chub have been observed by CFI as well as some casual snorkelers spawning in the Tellico! Seeing those turquoise jewels in there is a real treat!
Last year, we put together a short Youtube video of some of the beautiful places we visit regularly. I wanted to include it again as I can never get enough of looking at our beautiful southeastern streams and rivers. Enjoy!
And please have a happy and safe holiday! And, if you're looking for that special year-end donation to make, keep us in mind!