Friday, April 13, 2018
An epic aquatic foray
With this crew, we were assured of all manner of underwater wonders being found, and that's exactly what happened. It was one of the best days of aquatic exploration I've ever been part of. Ten species of darters were found (we missed two that are known from this locale), plus many other fish species. Lots of non-fish aquatic organisms as well.
This spot in Little Darby Creek is owned by Franklin County Metro Parks, as part of the sprawling Battelle Darby Metropark. Metro Parks deserves enormous credit for conservation efforts along the Darby Creeks, as does the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Big and Little Darby creeks are exceptional warm water habitats and rank high among the finest streams in the Midwestern U.S.
We lug our camera gear and other implements afield to make these shots. A small table on the gravel bar provides a stable platform. Several small aquariums stand ready to receive photographic subjects. The reasons for setting up operations streamside are at least threefold: 1) It's just easier to have everything so handy to the working site; 2) fishes in breeding condition lose their colors fairly quickly when removed from the stream and the exact water temperature which stimulated the coloration, and 3) we don't want to harm the subjects. By seining fish in close proximity to the photo operation, we can quickly release them back into the stream, where they were captured.
There's much more to making good fish photos, but I'll not bore you with details. Shooting into aquaria and through water, especially with flash, involves lots of nuances and efforts to keep water clear and tank sides clean.
Another cool thing about map turtles is that they feed often on clams, which gives an indication as to their jaw power. Probably good to keep fingers away from those mandibles, although the turtles do not act particularly aggressive.
Madtoms are notable for their pectoral fin spines, which are armed with venom sacs at the base. Incautious handlers might receive a painful sting.
Thanks to everyone who was part of this expedition! It's always great to get afield with people who are not only top experts, but are passionate about their subjects, and conservation.
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