NANFA-- Been a long time since I rock and rolled.. NANFA convention

Crail, Todd (
Sun, 4 Aug 2002 23:39:58 -0400

Good evening folks,
Well here I am back in the "real world" (as opposed to the "magical world") after the 2002 NANFA Convention held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I would like to thank Bob Mueller, Leo Long, and Gerald Smith (and spouses! :) for their time and commitment to hosting such a fantastic conference, as well, the speakers for sharing their insights and information with our organization. I will say the topics of presentation and our conversation were enlightening, inspiring and, well... I think I have a serious case of "conference glow" right now :) I thought I would take some time to share the things I drove home with, as well, a little bonus collection excursion the Zarlinga's and I made here in one of the local streams this afternoon. :)
The Speakers
Three of the topics presented struck a particular fancy with me.
On Thursday evening, Doug Sweet shared with us a tale of degradation and horror concerning our native mussel species and what methods his group of volunteers and staff from the Belle Isle Aquarium are doing in the good name of conservation of these species. In addition to a thorough discussion of the biology of the critters and stunning photographs of their fish enticement "strategies", he shared with us how he had begun tracking the decline of the native mussel species in the Detroit River (just down stream from ground zero of the zebra mussel introduction) and their apparent *extirpation* from that river since the late 90's (due to zebra mussel habits... note.. not even the pollution of Detroit and it's industry phased them in a significant way, considering how quickly the zebra mussels pushed them out). However, he gracefully followed this horrifying fact with discussion on how he's found populations of "species of concern" right in the back yards of sprawling subdivisions
in the Detroit area, and demonstrated that these critters have a fighting chance to deal with human encroachment. Of particular note, was Doug's demonstration of how "exactly" a mussel’s foot "works". If you're unfortunate to never catch up with Doug, perhaps you could convince Nick Zarlinga to provide a close second demonstration, albeit, much to his wife's dismay. ;)
The next topic that struck fancy with me was Gerald Smith's presentation on "The Fishes of Michigan - and how they got here". This presentation was sort of an epiphany for me, as it drew a lot of my local knowledge together into solid state. It also solved my conundrum of whether it was ethical to seine Orangespots from the Maumee River drainage, as I discovered they're *only* in that drainage due to human activity creating the Miami Canal system (which he didn't really get into detail about, but I seriously doubt he knew he had such a receptive audience to this little tidbit.... I'm still not shipping them though ;) He spoke in great detail about "watershed" or "stream" capture in the thawing of the Wisconsin Glacier, and the many levels of lakes that were predecessors to our current Great Lakes. This topic was more of an interest to me (yes more than those fantastic lepomids) because I spend a fair portion of my free time volunteering at a Nature Conservancy project here in
Toledo, that is working to conserve species of plants and animals that have flourished on shoreline and basin of past lake levels.
As a side topic, we'll say "Appendix TC"... Lake Erie, as we know it (and the one I know the most about), was not always so. In fact, the predecessor of Lake Erie *completely drained* when the glacier gave way at the eastern end and allowed flowage out the St. Lawrence thru the Niagara Gorge. Only when the strata of the Niagara Gorge "rebounded" from the pressure of the glacier, was Lake Erie born... And, one must note that at some point... Niagara Falls will actually fall, and Lake Erie will be more of a River, than lake :)
If you'd like to read a little more about this topic (one lake level went all the way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana ;) hop on over to:
In addition, Gerald took us to the U of M Museum of Natural History and the fish collection there was, um, I'd say impressive, but I don't even think that could possibly encapsulate the sentiment :)
The third topic that caught my attention was for good reason. Paulo Petri spoke (after the banquet ;) on Candiru habits and habitat, and, well, their claim to notoriety. Apparently, some Candiru (a parasitic catfish of the Amazon) are misguided in their mission for fitness of their species and take a wrong turn up the ducts of human nitrogen expulsion (read: don't make the river yellow :). Rob Carillio extensively expressed his concerns (and perhaps others ;) about such an event, I really wonder what the Banquet faculity felt about what they were hearing :) I will note, that if you have a club in the Midwest, you should really take measures to have Paulo come and speak to your club. He's an exciting individual with a passion for diversity and he can speak with authority about pretty much all that is Rio Negro. :)
I missed the afternoon topics because I had to drive back down to Toledo to cover our support line in the afternoon, so there may have been much more to highlight. I hope someone will make mention of these talks that we all may benefit from that information :)
The People
All I can say is "wow". I've been an extensive traveler of the Marine Ornamentals hobby for the last three years, and while I've met some awesome folks, I can *not* say that I ever met such a *diverse* group of folks who were *so* aligned with my personal thinking and pleasures as I did this weekend :) It was fantastic. Lively discussion about tough issues, humorous discussion about the day's and past events.... I don't think that I was ever *not* enjoying where I was or who I was with :) The knowledge base in this group is phenomenal. And not just with native fish... Our table shared an enlightening discussion about native plants and how they affect our ecology at the banquet (As an example). Well... native plants came up a lot, I would suppose that's because I have a tendency to encourage those discussions... ;) However, I was amazed at the number of "conservation gardening" discussions I had. I would like to thank those folks for those talks. In land stewardship, it's a ve
ry frustrating battle, and for the people who fight those battles regularly, conversation can turn into a "whine-fest" of sorts. It was fantastic to talk with people who were excited and enlightened about this topic for me (nearly therapeutic :) The notion that "fix the land use and the streams will follow" only gets you so far... I'm still ecstatic to have had these discussion :)
At any rate, at a minimum, I would say I've walked away with some new friendships and was tickled to finally find out what/who some of you are in person, rather than what you type or print :)
The Collections
I don't think I'm going to go into great detail here because our morning group only seemed to find *strongholds* of spotfin shiners and greenside darters with a couple of stonerollers mixed in... However, I had a *blast*. Our team's sense of delegation was fantastic, we laughed a lot more than we saw fish, and what a great time! :) We saw a lot of longnose gar at Lake Patterson, as well, Lake Erie, and that is about all I have to contribute on such matters. I became more interested in my "belly boat" at Patterson and I feel that others will have a much more colorful story to tell as they were right in the fray all the while. Rumor is Leo "reached out and touched somebowfin" but I'll let those folks tell the tale from the other side of "The Point", as I am only able to substantiate that all as rumor :)
Bonus Round
I had invited the Zarlinga's over to see the "wet prairie project" in the back of my sub-suburban yard because Nick had expressed a mutual Zarlinga interest in it (it didn't hurt I was right on their way home :). As it was only 11:30 when we all parted ways on the shores of Lake Erie, we had some day to burn. I couldn't think of a better place on the way home to hit than Ten Mile Creek. I've never had the opportunity to work that stream with another experienced native folk, as this is the stream that I sacrifice all seining virgins on ;)
Picture this... Busy sprawl road right off the Toledo Ohio Beltway and we pull into a Kroger Grocery Store parking lot. A ravine of sorts is apparent beyond the over grown sumac, but what is down there? We see from the street bridge a litter strewn stream with these really nice riffles. Looks like another garbage infested Hell that may have been Heaven in an earlier day? Oh Jay Hemdal (forward on if appropriate) I personally challenge you to jump into Ten Mile creek in May! (and will see that you have the means and guide if you're willing :)
We had a great collection for a headwater in this region. With certainty, it wasn't a stream in Sumatra or the Rio Negro... But did we see some fantastic native fish. I will first report our list and their portraits tomorrow (I'm having trouble connecting to the server tonight for some dumb reason). The list:
Confirmed sightings:
Orangetroat Darter - Etheostoma spectabile (by the troves)
Johnny Darter - Etheostoma nigrum (funny story here)
Blackside Darter - Percina maculata
Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus
Blackstripe Topminnow - Fundulus notatus
Grass Pickerel - Esox americanus vermiculatus (saw prolly 20, just grabbed one for its toothy grin and then sent it on it's way :)
Creek Chub - Semotilus atromaculatus
Central Stoneroller - Campostoma anomalum
Striped Shiner - Luxilus chrysocephalus
White Sucker - Catostomus commersoni
Bluntnose Minnow - Pimephales notatus
Mystery Cyprinid - ???
Floating Green Alien Head - Galaxius atlargeus ;)
So we confirmed 12 species, which isn't bad for two guys with, well, both possessing unfavorable equipment (let me say mine didn't even make it out of the van :)
The Johnnies perhaps made the greatest story here. We had to be quite a sight. We couldn't catch them on flat bedrock! I'm sure Linda was enjoying our endeavors :) At one point, we were trying to get one to swim into the seine (we were taunting them with an aquarium net from inches away and they wouldn't move) and of course, their cohorts were swimming out from under the seine! Back and forth back and forth they would go. It was pretty frustrating. I think the one featured in the photo just finally felt pity that we were carrying this much extra cranial mass and couldn't nab even one. <sigh> So he took a nice pic and it was back in the drink for him :)
Linda located an alien. It was of the most particular, almost seemingly petroleum derived material and had big long eyes like that thing on the front cover of "Communion"…. But we’re not sure what water body it was from…. ;)
The grass pickerel were bonus round for me. Usually, Ten Mile is clouded up with phyto blooms. However, due to the drought this year, I suspect that it's not been as infested with lawn and field fertilizer as usual and it was exceptionally clear. As a result, I saw that toothy grin (with a darter in tow) immediately as we entered the water. What a neat fish! I didn't think there were any real predators up in this stream, but I guess nature has a way of working itself out in every situation. My only hope is that somehow, a crayfish predator makes way up there. We're talking complete havoc when the seine comes up :)
So pics to follow tomorrow... My mind and body are exhausted and I don't think I'll be of much inspiration having to be at work tomorrow without any sleep. So thanks again all who were there, and if not before, hope to see you in Huntsville! :)
(Sorry for the formatting issues. I'm using the web version of Exchange and well, it's a Microsoft product ;)

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