NANFA-L-- Code of Ethics Questions

Dennis Burnette (
Wed, 29 Mar 2006 18:25:05 -0500

I appreciate Nick's thoughtful reply to Joel's e-mail. I agree with his
ethical position and have a similar one that I try to follow. A parallel
might be that I do a lot of butterfly and dragonfly photography but have no
interest in collecting them - in that situation, meaning killing them and
mounting their bodies in a display case. (That's because of my own personal
preference; my statement isn't an attack on others who do collect insects
for responsible reasons, so please don't bombard me with pro-bug collecting
replies, folks!) As for fish, I intend to set up a naturalistic tank that
resembles our local Piedmont North Carolina streams someday very soon. In
the meantime, I want to enjoy "collecting" the objects of my interest in the
form of photographs for fun, and I often use my slides in educational
presentations. That was the reason for my original "photograph and release"

Dennis Burnette
Greensboro, NC


Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 16:06:56 -0500
From: "Nick Zarlinga" <>
Subject: RE: NANFA-L-- Photograph and Release

Joel and Dennis, I am sure that you will be pummelled with replies to this
question, so let me be the first to stand on my soapbox ;)


in my opinion, this "whole native fish thing" is just a front for this
"whole native environment thing". It's all about respect and keeping first
and foremost what is best for the individual animal, and the specific
environment that is in question, in mind. Let me point out that I do not
consider myself a bunnyhugger by any stretch. Respect for the animal and
the environment is different. With that being said, a few things should be
against code; endangered animals (either locally or regionally), seriously
imperilled animals that may not have made the radar of endangered yet, or
simply those animals that are delicate enough that handling causes undue
stress to the animal. Unless there is a good reason (which is debatable in
itself), these animals should be released immediately. Almost anything else
is fair game *to learn from*. This does not mean collect armies of a
species that can not possibly survive in your, say 10 gallon aquarium. Keep
only a couple, and that is only if you are not planning on keeping "only a
couple" of the 15 other species you just caught for that 10 gallon example.
It is always best to do your photography immediately or soon after your
capture. Often times this is when the best colors are present in the
specimens. If you do intend on keeping the specimen, no problem doing it
later, you will most likely be dissappointed with the lack of coloration.
You may have to keep them for a while to color up again. Keeping a bunch of
fish for photographing-in-the end of the day brings a few issues up: how
far have you moved from where the animals were collected? Certianly if this
is in a different watershed this is a no-no, but even different locations
of the same water shed may not have the same habitat that that animal needs
to survive in. If you collect ripe females or dominant males that you have
no intention of keeping, you should probably release them in the same
capture location so that they can continue their *duties* after your *rude*
interruption. Also, is there a temperature difference from being in the
warm sun all day? Putting the animals directly back is probably not a great
idea after they have been warming up -or cooling down- for a period of time.
Taking the animals home first then reintroducing them is arguably a no-no
too, since they may pick up something from your sparkling clean aquarium.
This is debatable though since fish are introduced all the time in stocking
programs and reintroduction efforts. However if I recall, I think we as
NANFA'ns as a whole discourage this practice.

So, what is crossing the line? My answer is when you are not taking the
animals needs (and the law) as your first priority. The bottom line is you
can do anything that you want. It is just a personal and professional code
of ethics that distiguish us from the other people who have the same hobby
that we do.

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485

"Who hears the fishes when they cry?"
Henry Thoreau--1817-1862
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