North Fork Parkers Creek, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, is a fraction of the size it once was. Flooding that occurred after the last Ice Age submerged much of the original watershed. This occurance left behind fish from ancient species that have survived in a significantly smaller watershed. About 14 species have been seen here, which is roughly double the diversity as other freshwater streams on the Eastern Shore.
The presence of some species, redfin pickerels and tessellated darters, indicates that the water quality is good because they don't tolerate salinity or pollution. Scientists are puzzled, however, about the unusual presence of the fat sleeper, a small bottom-dwelling fish. Its usual range is from North Carolina to Brazil.
Landowners along the creek are very conscious of the importance of maintaining buffers along the stream. They have worked hard to maintain trees and vegetation in riparian areas to provide shade and help cool the water, as well as assist with capturing possible pollutants when rainwater flows over farmland toward waterways.
Threats to North Fork Parkers Creek and other small streams on the Eastern Shore include rising water temperature and the intrusion of saltwater from rising sea levels. Since some freshwater streams on the Eastern Shore are spring fed, potential depletion of the aquifer by excessive water consumption is also a concern.
Click here to view the complete story about North Fork Parkers Creek in the Healthy Waters book.