Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ladder Clean Up

Today was the annual clean out of the fish ladder at Heffler's Mill. I've blogged about this before, but will refresh your memory. The fish ladder was built to aid fish, like salmon and eels, get upstream. The ladder runs next to a falls on the Sackville River and every year at this time, the Sackville Rivers Association cleans out the debris that accumulates over the winter in the rungs of the ladder and in the holding cage at the top. The holding cage is kept open all winter and closed over the summer and fall to allow us to count the number and species of fish traveling through. (We also are able to catch a few female salmon, while they are in the holding cage, that we send to a fish hatchery about an hour away.)

I can help clean out dead leaves, branches, and rocks that get caught in the top and sides of the cage, but I leave the shoveling of the rocks at the bottom of the cage and rungs to younger folks. That's when I usually go on a coffee run for the group of us. So there's not a lot I can do, physically, except sometimes empty buckets of rocks into the main part of the river.

The best part of the exercise, for me, is discovering the creatures that live at the bottom of the cage, normally on the river bottom. First though, pictures of the fish ladder rungs at capacity, and then after we block the water from entering:

I discovered a tangled mass of roots from some long dead plant or shrub that had been washed into the cage. In this mass were the usual suspects, like wormy insect nymphs, rocks, and stones, but also something I was unaware of until today. Pea or fingernail clams!! Tiny little things, freshwater, and food for fish and leeches. Cool.

One of the other volunteers found an insect nymph that would scare the hardiest of Alien hunters, if they were any larger than they are. Take a look at it to see if you can figure out what this nymph will be in another month or two (hint: the eyes and legs are the only thing that remain the same in the adult and the nymph)

If you said "dragonfly" you'd be right. The eyes are really the giveaway.

And while sitting on the edge of the empty holding cage, I spied a worm like creature at the bottom in the muck....a closer look revealed a leech. I took it out for an even closer look and pictures, of course. It stretched out to about the length of my thumb:

Because we had a relatively mild winter, there wasn't as much debris in the holding cage as in previous years. Actually, last year we had to delay the cleaning because the water level was extremely high and the river flow was too fast.

We had several young women join us today, newcomers to the organization, and really hard workers. Hopefully they had as much fun as I did.



Anonymous said...
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Herrad said...

Hi Shauna,
Lovely post about the fish ladder, great photos, especially the nympth.
It has been awhile since I visited many blogs.
Decided to do a quick visit to say hello to as many blogs as possible tonight..
Nice to visit your blog its been ages, I am sure it will not be so long again especially now my life is getting better.
I went out this afternoon for the first time since 19 August 2009 and it was brilliant.
Lovely to feel my world getting bigger again after all this time in bed.
Have a good evening and a pleasant day tomorrow.
Please visit Steve @ The Wheel Of Fortuna

Important we support him in the first weeks of his bereavement.

Diane J Standiford said...

I was going to guess fly. Um, if you have a sec on Saturday, maybe you could tell me what the bug on my window screen is? One or 2 are hanging on all year long. They have wings, but have never seen them fly...not best pic, but up close seems to have two long body wings and two small by the head wings...I immediately think of you when I see a bug. BTW, we have a fish ladder at our locks fresh to salt water for, mostly salmon, but we have winddows--a great tourist attraction, we used to live a few blocks from there and I would spend hours watching. Army Corp of Engineers maintained it.

Anonymous said...

I do like ur article~!!!..................................................

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steve said...

Yesterday and today was MS carnation day throughout the city. People were selling carnations in support of the MS Society. Of course I bought two bunches of carnations.

This helped me be a star at home since my live in love goddess was so impressed that I brought home two bunches of flowers not just one.

And of course we woke up the next morning with a smile...

Have Myelin? said...

I remember jumping into a Texas creek when I was a teenager and when I came up I was covered in leeches! The teenaged boys of course wanted to "help me" remove them. Uh, no? LOL!!! I was screeching of course but I got them off.

Bloody thangs! Nice photos...

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