Using an electrofishing backpack, dressed in chest waders, and armed with nets and buckets, Virginia Commonwealth University biologists looked like the Ghostbusters in camouflage when they began an INSTAR assessment of a creek that drains into the Piankatank River.
David Hopler, fisheries biologist, stepped into the narrow stream and began shocking the water in front of him with a pole connected to his battery-powered backpack. Watching for the flash of silver from momentarily stunned fish, Hopler netted them quickly before putting them in a bucket of water. Ready with another net, Ricky Davis walked beside him to help spot and capture fish. Rubber waders protected them from electrocution.
Davis identified and counted the fish collection, then released them back into the stream. Nine different species of fish were identified in this section of the stream. The team wrapped up by completing a habitat assessment using a standardized score sheet.
The fish assessment is supplemented by the collection and identification of the stream's bugs in a similar fashion. All the data will be analyzed by INSTAR to determine how this stream compares to a model reference stream.
Click here to view the complete story about conducting an INSTAR assessment in the Healthy Waters book on page eight.