NANFA-- Student Collecting

Brian Bastarache (
Wed, 19 Jul 2000 18:50:50 -0400

This morning I took a group of 9th and 10th grade students out for a little
seining. I have been working with them for the past couple of weeks
assessing the health of the Segreganset River. The "Seggie" is part of the
Taunton River Watershed located in southeastern Massachusetts.

We started at our most downstream site. The habitat here is weedy, and the
water moves pretty slowly. The bottom is gravelly in most places, but
there are muddy spots. We scooped up some realy pretty little bluegills
and pumpkinseeds (Lepomis macrochirus & L. gibbosus ), a bunch of little
chain pickerel (Esox niger), a lone swamp darter (Etheostoma fusiform), and
the kids favorite...a 3 lb. bullhead (Ameiurus melas)! The kids got a real
kick out of him. I infromed them of the spines spines and that neither the
spines nor the barbels were venomous... no matter what their grandfarther
told them!!

We gathered up our equipment and loaded the kids into the van to head to
our most upstream site. This is a much different habitat. It is as much
of a classic stream,( gravel, cobble, boulders, riffles, pools, you
know...) as we get in southeastern Mass. After a few drags of the net all
we came up with was three tesselated darters (Etheostoma olmsteadi). We
really don't get too many cold water stream fish species in the flat, warm
part of the state.

I had to improvise. I found a couple two-lined salamanders (Eurycea
bislineata), a classic stream species; and still common in our area. We
also found a spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata). Another highlight. Spotties
are common in SE Mass., but not in the rest of the state. They are listed
as a Speices of Special Concern. They are also not usually associated with
streams, but shallow marshes. The neat thing is that the week before we
found three, count them three, wood turltes (Clemmys insculpta)! They are
definately associated with streams, but quite rare in southeastern Mass.
Woodies are also a Species of Special Concern. I have been working with
herps for years and these are the first live woodies I've ever found!!!

A few fish were kept for the tanks at the Natural History Center back at
the school, and a few were preserved for UMASS Amherst and Bridgewater
State College. And Rego, you now have a nice little series of Esox niger
from the Seggie. The rest were released.

I tried to illustrate the relationship between the diffences in habitats
and the differences in critters living there. We'll see tomorrow if any
sank in.

Next time you go out take a kid with you.

Brian Bastarche
Bristol County Natural History Center/ Bristol Co. Agricultural School
Dighton, MA

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