Saturday, April 30, 2011

We Survived

I survived the storms on Wednesday, we just have no electricity... We're going out to Estill Fork tomorrow, Sunday, meeting at UAH at 10 for Robert's last darter collection. See you then?

Monday, April 25, 2011

There Are Always New Species At The Flint...

And today we saw two, the whitetail shiner and the dusky darter. When I first saw the dusky I was convinced it was a blotchside logperch. But when I got back to my office and looked at the pictures I realized it didn't have the long snout of a logperch; I was fixated on the blotches. So, after 7 months at this location we found our first dusky darter, Percina maculata. It's a fairly widespread species, but seems to be uncommon in rivers on the north side of the Tennessee. Now we can say that it is indeed found in the Flint River east of Huntsville. Here are the two best pictures:

Out To The Flint This Morning

We're out today to do darter transects at the Flint. I've been watching water levels and volume drop on the USGS site for the Flint since Thursday. Strong rains will likely move into the area tomorrow afternoon, so today is our window for getting out safely and easily. It's warm enough that we can wade without waders, even better!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Forever Wild Closer To Reauthorization

I'm reposting this from Conservation Alabama:

One last hurdle remains for reauthorization of Forever Wild. This morning, HB126 passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources 6-3, setting up a difficult fight on the Senate floor that could come as early as next week.

Your hard work thus far to get Forever Wild renewed for 20 more years has been tremendous. But we can't stop now. Votes are tight in the Senate, and we need you to personally call or visit your state Senator today to ensure she or he will vote YES on HB126. Watch for action alert e-mails to help get Forever Wild through the Senate.

We are almost there! Together we can ensure our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy Alabama's most precious places for decades to come.


Adam R. Snyder
Executive Director

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shots For Panama

I got two vaccines for Panama today, typhoid and hepatitis A. Since I'm not going to the eastern part of the country near the Colombian border I shouldn't need either malaria or yellow fever shots. I'd love to see that area, Darien, but it's a little wild and lawless for my immediate needs. Hanging out with Colombian FARC guerrillas doing their R&R in that region is not what I need at the moment.

Someone wrote an unusually stupid letter to the editor at the Huntsville Times a few days ago. She objected to the recent cover story about efforts to preserve the Spring Pygmy Sunfish, saying that any resources used in that effort should instead be used to stop abortion(!). I don't have much use for right-to-lifers under the best of circumstances, but this takes the cake for d-u-m dumb.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perfect Dipnet From Jonah's Aquarium

I received my Perfect Dipnet from Jonah's Aquarium. I've never owned one, but I've seen them used by others. For my purposes in Panama the net should work, since it's collapsible for portability on a jet, but robust enough to put up with a lot of abuse. Thanks Mark!

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Postcard From The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I just received a postcard from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the status of the Spring Pygmy Sunfish. The first sentence reads:

"On April 1, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish an announcement, in the Federal Register, of a positive 90-day finding on a petition to list the spring pygmy sunfish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (Act)". The link to this is, and scroll down to April 1.

You can look for Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2010-0007 for specific information being handled by the office of the FWS in Jackson, Mississippi.

So I guess the spring pygmy will really be listed as Endangered, once and for all. I hope that this will really help the species, which of course needs all the help it can get.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Flash! Fish & Wildlife Might List The Spring Pygmy Sunfish!

Check out the link below:
It looks like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is changing its mind about listing the Spring Pygmy Sunfish under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity and Mike Sandel, petitioners for the listing, are rewarded for pursuing the FWS in a fairly aggressive fashion (like filing a Notice of Intent to file a lawsuit). I'm congratulating myself for writing a letter in support of an emergency listing of the species, and I'm glad that NANFA, North American Native Fishes Association, also wrote a letter in support of the petition. I also heard today from a Huntsville Times reporter that one or more of the local landowners around the Pygmy's spring system are negotiating with FWS to protect the species in a meaningful fashion.

A summary of all of this appeared as the lead front page story in today's Huntsville Times, at

Saturday, April 02, 2011

High Water At The Flint, Again, For Driftnetting

The new moon is tomorrow, so we went out today to driftnet at our site on the Flint River. It was a mild, sunny day after a week of dank rain off and on. Because of recent rains the river was at the highest level we've done yet, so that we only set one net for reasons of safety and not having to walk out into the most treacherous part of the stream. Below is a view of the net, with 4 of us holding on to it. By the end of the hour one of the pole sleeves was mostly torn out, and a small hole had appeared in the bag of the net. But then, water velocity 6 cm off the bottom was 0.8 m/sec so we were running a form of stress test.

Water temperature was 11 deg. C, while air temp. was 10 deg. C when we started. Here's a shot of Doug with the bridge to his front. If you look closely in front of Doug's mouth, one of the bridge supports has a huge tree wedged against it. We had a plan to retreat quickly if it came loose and rolled towards us. Luckily, it didn't.