Don't worry! I'm not posting anything about politics! Well, aside from ....Be sure to Vote!....And maybe, think about Environmental Issues when you do. OK, Enough!
Any of you living in Eastern Tennessee, North Georgia, Western and Central North Carolina, much of Alabama, Mississippi and many other places in the Southeastern U.S., know that we are in the grips of one of the worst droughts we've seen in many years! That coupled with one of the hottest Summers (and still into Fall!) seems to be taking its toll on many of our aquatic systems. Several of the streams that we regularly visit are the lowest we have seen them in 30+ years! This can result in decreased available habitat for species that require silt-free, swift waters. Pool dwelling species are seeing their pools fill with accumulated silt because the low flows encourage the settling of the silt into the slower moving stretches of the streams. Potential nesting rocks become impacted. And benthic aquatic organisms that many of the fishes feed upon are suffocated.
In extreme cases, especially for fishes that live in springs and small, first or second order streams, their habitat can dry up completely! This is the case for the Barrens Topminnow, Fundulus julisia.
This amazing topminnow is found in only a few small springs and spring-fed streams on the Barrens Plateau in Middle Tennessee. Conservation Fisheries was recently informed that the Type Locality (the site from which the fish was described) was just about completely dry! This prompted a trip over to the site the following day to assess the situation. We found little more than a large mud puddle where the spring pond once was. We were initially encouraged when we saw movement in the water, but soon discovered that most of that was caused by many thousands of bullfrog tadpoles! We were, however, able to rescue around 100 young topminnows. These were brought into the CFI hatchery in Knoxville.
Collecting the last Barrens Topminnows from the Type Locality. This spring pond is normally bank-full to beyond the footbridge in the background.
These 100 fish will be held at our facility until such time that that they might be returned to their spring. A portion will be retained in our current ARK population. In addition to the heat and drought, this area is home to hundreds of nurseries. Naturally, the drought affects them as well and they place a high demand on the local water table! This, in turn, hastens the drying of these spring habitats!
As it turns out, this is not the first time we have had to do this! Several times in past dry years, we have had to make this same rescue! This is truly a fish on the brink of extinction. Were it not for the efforts of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, CFI, the Tennessee Aquarium and others, it would likely already be gone. We continue, with help from these agencies, to manage the fate of this beautiful and extremely imperiled fish. Meetings are planned to decide the best approach to ensuring their continued existence. We will try to keep you updated!
So, the International Day of giving to Non-Profits, otherwise known as Giving Tuesday, is coming up on November 29th! As usual, we appreciate anything you can donate to CFI. We use these funds to help in protecting imperiled species, like the above Barrens Topminnow. But even if you can't give, we know you shop! And while we like to promote local shopping where possible, we also know there are some things you just have to end up ordering from the interwebs! And, we know (through secret sources!) that many of you shop on Amazon.com. Oh yes, we know these things! So, as long as you're doing this anyway, why not do it through their program called Amazon Smiles? Doesn't cost you anything more. Doesn't change the way you shop. Everything is still available, just as on the regular Amazon site. BUT, a portion of each sale goes to the non-profit of your choosing! And hey, we hope that organization is Conservation Fisheries! Consider it. It's easy to do and just because we love all of our subscribers, here's a link: Amazon Smiles for Conservation Fisheries
And finally.... Most of you know about co-director Pat Rakes' bicycle accident last January.We are happy to have him back to work part time now! And, if you looked at the topminnow site photo above, you'll see we do occasionally drag him out into the field with us! He has worked hard to come back! He, along with a couple others from CFI will be at the Southeastern Fishes Council meeting later this week. Be sure to say hey!
I will try to be better about posting these blogs, but, just like so many political promises....well, I did say no more politics, right!