NANFA-- Introducing novices in Texas

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Sun, 15 Jul 2001 13:32:30 -0500

I had the opportunity to take 12 members of the North Texas (Dallas) Chapter
of the Texas Master Naturalist program out collecting on the West Fork of
the Trinity River as it runs through the Fort Worth Nature Center and
Refuge. We went to one of the areas that Sajjad described in his collecting
update last month.

None of these folks had ever handled a seine or a dip net and I was
impressed that no one showed any trepidation about jumping right into the
water even after my warnings regarding our resident gators and water
moccasins. I had provided the folks with an introduction to what we might
find and they had seen some examples in the Nature Center's aquaria but
nothing could have prepared them for seeing the creatures in the wild.

The first fish caught was a beautiful 3-4 inch long warmouth. Everyone's
eyes grew large as they examined it closely and learned to relate the living
fish to its natural habitat. The next run with the seine brought up a
seething mass of blackstripe topminnows and we compared the body form of a
surface dwellers to that of the sunfish. We brought up netful after netful
of shimmering gizzard shad including one 7 inch specimen. Silversides were
in great abundance and I related their delicacy (relative to life in
captivity, not their edibility) to the group. Finally, a net came up with a
number of red shiners in full color. The oohs and aahs echoed down the
river. The biggest excitement however, came not from a native, but from an
approximately 10 pound carp that managed to get caught in a seine. In
total, we caught 13 species of fish. The folks also had the opportunity to
see a number of common aquatic invertebrates such as glass shrimp, water
scorpions, predaceous diving beetles, whirligigs, damselfly and dragonfly
nymphs, etc.

All in all, it was a wonderful day spent waist deep in the water avoiding
the 100 degree heat and 12 more people were converted into native fish
enthusiasts and conservationists.

Rob Denkhaus
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
"El muerto a la sepultura, el vivo a la travesura"
"The dead to burial, the living to mischief"

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