A Good Day At Sipsey Fork, And Back To The Lab
Today is drop-dead beautiful, low humidity and a blazing sun with air temperature of about 90 F. We went out to the canoe ramp at Sipsey Fork and found the lowest water I've ever seen there. We also found unbelievable numbers of alabama and blacktail shiners, like I've never seen before, and finally found a sweet spot for silverstripe shiners 500-600 meters upstream, up above the Highway 33 bridge, at a riffle system. We wound up with 17 silverstripes, from medium to large size. We didn't find any burrheads which was disappointing because I've found a few in this stretch before. If we're serious about burrheads I'll have to get permission to go back to Borden Creek in the Wilderness because I know we can find them there.
We got most of the fish back to the lab alive, or very freshly dead, so we immediately set out to remove the brains and suspend them in a lysis buffer, this time with a protease inhibitor. I'm proud of the four students for sticking to it without a lunch break. This involved measuring a fish's standard length, body mass, removing the brain, weighing the brain, adding the right amount of lysis buffer based on brain weight, shredding the brain/buffer mix with a probe point, and making sure all of the information was correctly recorded before all of the buffered brains went in to the -80 C freezer. This is what sabbatical is for, I guess. Hopefully on Thursday/Friday we'll do a second round of western blots, with some of these brains, some telescope and scarlet shiners from the fall, and a few repeats of the last round for comparison.
The only sour note was finding the remnants of what looked like a redneck picnic along the beach at the canoe ramp. They even left a fishing pole, tackle box, and a cartoonish large leaf knife. What a bunch of morons; either that, or they were abducted by a UFO with no warning, which might be a preferable ending.