We made it in and out of the Walls of Jericho on Saturday. Seven of us met Nick Sharp at 8:30, and we were all able to fit in and on his truck for the bumpy ride in. Andrew and I sat in the back of the truck, while the other five students squeezed in with Nick. It was the first time I've worn my wool cap and insulated gloves in years, gear that I used to wear daily in Boston before moving here. Good thing too, since it was about freezing as we bumped in. But the water temperature at Hurricane Creek was 9 deg. C, not too bad whilst wearing insulated waders. Several of the students had never seined before, but soon got into the groove of the darter dance to chase fish into the net. We quickly got our quota of 30 telescope shiners, none obviously gravid or in breeding condition; but that's the point to collect them before they go into condition. We only netted black and stripetail darters, somewhat disappointing, but we weren't really working the creek for darters. The blacks were just coming into breeding colors. One in particular was a huge male with his belly turning flame orange. For reasons unclear to me the biggest black darters I've ever seen are in this creek. So we have material to work with over the next several weeks. We hope to return to Hurricane Creek on Saturday, March 3.
On another front, it took three gels to prove it but the PCR DNA amplifications Kris did last week with six sample of heteroclitus
DNA worked in at least four of the six samples. These are important samples, too; three of them are Nantucket fish, and one is from Virginia Beach. Now I'm confident that our PCR protocols are still good, that the Taq
enzyme I have still works (the key enzyme that drives this reaction), and that we can amplify some more samples for further DNA sequencing. The next batch we do will probably be fish from Savin Hill Cove in Boston Harbor, adjacent to the University of Massachusetts in Boston. They amplified before, but the sequencing service screwed up the sequences for all eight that we sent. With that we should have a pretty good story for Kris to analyze for his thesis.