Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I used to Like Lily Pads or Things my Mother Taught Me.

I spent the last two weeks working at Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge with Taylor and Hannah.  I’d worked with Taylor before but never with Hannah.  I soon learned that she was yet another of the exceptional STEP “kids” that we have working with us this summer.
It was another typical morning.  Slightly overcast and a bit cool.  Perfect for catching fish.  We decided to finish the last site in Winter Slough.  We did not catch anything exciting.  Just the usual northern pikeminnow, some sunfish, a few sculpin, and three spined sticklebacks.  We catch very few salmon in these sloughs at this time of year with temperatures nearing 20°C. 
After loading up the gear in the truck, we decided to see if we could drive to the upper sites in Indian Jack.  While driving on Center Road through the refuge, Hannah called out that she spotted “the tree” at the upper site.  We drove through the field and sure enough, we were at the site.  That eliminated at least an hour of rowing. 
We unloaded our gear and pulled four seines.  We did get a few carp but not much else.  We collected our water quality and habitat measurements.  Since we were very close to the middle site, we figured we might as well row the five minutes down to the site.  They told me it was covered in lily pads and not an easy site to seine. 
Sure enough, as we neared the site, the channel became fully covered in the vegetation.  It was a chore to row through them.  As we rowed and rowed, not making much progress, Hannah told me that she used to like lily pads.  I laughed.  I asked her how we could seine at the site.  She pointed towards a tree on the bank and said there was an area of open water underneath it.  Not a whole lot of area, just enough to get the seine in and do a small loop. 
Indian Jack Site #9 Covered with Lily Pads
We began by collecting our water quality and habitat measurements.  I grabbed the YSI, an instrument used to measure the dissolved oxygen and temperature.  I pressed the power button and nothing happened.  I tried holding down the button.  Nothing.  I handed it to Taylor who came up with the same conclusion.  Dead Batteries.
Well, we had no batteries with us and none of us really wanted to row back through the lily pads to the truck.  Taylor and Hannah thought then that we could swap out the batteries from the PIT tag detector.  After opening up the unit we saw that the batteries were different.  Now what?  Taylor remembered his mother telling him once that if you had dead batteries you could rub them in your shirt and it would reenergize them. 
Hannah and I watched as Taylor did just that.  After a few minutes he put the batteries back into the unit.  He pushed the power button, smiled and told Hannah to quickly put the probe in the water.  Yes, it worked.  Thanks Taylor’s Mom! 
I’m sure you are all wondering what we caught at that site.  Nothing, but we sure did have fun.  And we now know what to do if we need just a bit more battery juice.

Submitted by Donna Allard