Sunday, June 7, 2009

Get in the boat, FISH! FISH! Get in the boat...

So I figured I would include some photos of me hard at work. I think many of you aren't really clear what I do besides the all-encompassing term of fisheries, so I'll go into a bit more detail. The Yellowstone Westslope subspecies of cutthroat trout are native to many of the creeks and lakes within the park, and this is the species of fish the restoration part of the fisheries program here at YNP is working towards saving.

For the last two weeks, Mike, Kate and I have been working on Geode Creek in collecting fish ready for spawning. We collect fish via the electrofishing method. Electrofishing involves using a probe that sends an electrical current throughout the water. This current periodically stuns the fish, making catching fish with dipnets seemingly easier. This is not always the case. We work in fairly fast flowing water that has vegetation, fallen trees, and other areas where fish can hide. Sometimes the current doesn't wholly stun the fish, so they often can speedily evade your grasp. When we do catch a significant number of trout, we take length and weight measurements and clip a bit of their pelvic fins for genetic sampling.
We electrofished a handful of times, and then kept the fish in live cars (plastic bins) in the creek to hold them until we were ready to spawn them. On Friday, we collected the males and females (in their own separate buckets) and extracted eggs and milt and placed them together in airtight containers. Egg extraction is simply squeezing the females until eggs jetrocket like a machine gun out of the female's ovipositor. Same thing goes for the males: just milt shoots out instead.

The picture below is from the hike Kate and I did to Specimen Creek. This is where Kate and many other fisheries folks last summer constructed a barrier to keep fish from going upstream. This area is where rotenone (poison) is injected into the water to kill gill-breathers. Such action is centered around attempting to eradicate brook trout, which is invasive.
On my pack are a pair of snoeshoes. The week before, Kate and Mike went to the barrier to check things out, and had to snoeshoe a large part of the way, as there was several feet of snow still left on the trail. As you can see from this picture, we clearly did not need them.
This was a bison jam we got in on our way to Specimen creek. You can see in the background a ranger on a horse. Yellowstone rangers actually have to periodically herd bison, as they are not protected outside of the park. If they roam outside of park borders, ranchers have the right to kill bison if they happen across their property. The culling of bison in Montana and WY is quite a controversial issue here.This photo is at Geode creek. Waders are so sexy. That is Mike on the left, and the live car in the water.

Huge elk antlers I found while hiking alongside Geode.Me hard at work. I'm clipping part of the pelvic fin of one of the many fish we worked with.

Unfortunately, you can't see the trout very well in this picture, but a better photo will soon follow.

Mike working with the spawning canisters. A better photo of a female cutthroat trout. Females are generally fatter than males...and definitely feistier.

We saw this sign on Friday, heading towards the Blacktail deer plateau drive. On the drive, we did experience rather poop driving, as rocks, muck and the like flew up everywhere as we drove down the road.

Baby elk! This is as close as I could get. The elk must have been just a few days old...it was so awkward on its legs, but oh so cute.

The photo above is from the Osprey Falls hike (approx. 7 mi) we did last weekend. This was at the top of the canyon. This hike was pretty peculiar, as not only did you go up for 2 miles, but you also went down for another 2, switchbacking all the way down to the falls. After reaching the falls, we had to hike back up and the side of the mountain and then back down to the dorm.

This photo is right before reaching the bottom of the falls. The trees were swaying and quaking in the tremendous wind and spray that came from the cascading falls.Right at the foot of the falls. I swear it was like I was on the Maid of the Mist, without the super stylish snazzy blue ponchos. We got SOAKED. Yellow-bellied marmot we saw chilling on a rock on the side of the trail. Although it's been rainy the past week, it makes for some incredible cloud photos. This was taken at the top of the trail.Western Tanager we saw along the trail. Such a gorgeous bird.This drive leads you to Old Faithful and other amazing natural wonders. The cliffs are smack against the road and windy as ever.

Friday night was my dormmate Laura's birthday, so we all went to this resort called Chico's to celebrate and participate in a little unmitigated buffoonery. Chico's has a pool that contains water that is pumped from hot springs, and a big group of us decided to try it out. The water was amazing...not lukewarm, and not too hot. Now I can say I swam in hot spring water...how cool is that?

Next to the pool was also a bar that featured a funk/reggae band that we all danced ridiculously to. This photo is of me, Derek (fisheries), Agnes (the French girl) and Kate.






The other night I witnessed an incredible sunset. It looked as if a painter had taken his paintbrush and made sweeping flicks of his brush from the mountain top upwards. The colors were amazing.

That's it for this post. One more covering yesterday to go.

1 comment:

likerenoir said...

Wow Emily! You have gotten some amazing photos and I am really looking forward to being up there soon. The sunsets were stunning, geyers glorious and that Western Tanager was really pretty. I liked the bison jam and guess you will probably see other wildlife "Jams" as the season progresses. Keep up with the photos as they do tell the story so beautifully.

Love,

Mom