Oct 27, 2009

Electroshock fishing creates unique ecological experience

by Cat Hewett

The class interrupted the quiet atmosphere on the North Forks River with the sounds of motors and loud beeps, warning everyone nearby that an electric current was running. As the fish swam, their aquatic paradise was shocked, making it easy for the students to scoop them up.

The Oct. 7 fishing trip was the first in a four-part study comparing wildlife of differing habitats throughout the Lynchburg area.

“I really enjoyed electroshocking the fish,” class member Chelaine McCarty said. “It’s a great way to capture and study them without the fish getting hurt. It’s also just fun.”

Reichenbach said that the trip’s purpose was to compare fish at locations along Rutledge Creek, especially brook trout. The class took into consideration temperature, water depth, availability of food, season and other factors.

The class found the most brook trout at higher elevations. Of the 49 fish they collected, 15 were brook trout. At the final site there were no brook trout to be found.

Shortly after beginning the hunt at the second capture site the students discovered an American eel lurking beneath the water’s surface. The eel evaded capture for some time before students finally caught up with the crafty creature. Two more American eels were found later in the trip.

Over the course of the day, Reichenbach’s students covered more than five kilometers (3.11 miles) of Rutledge Creek. Three students accidently plunged into the chilly water.

So if there’s something strange lurking in a creek, who you gonna call? Dr. R’s ecology class!

Contact Cat Hewett at cahewett@liberty.edu.

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