I can't wait to see the pics! We get a lot of kids here at the museum. It's
often impossible to predict what will appeal to them at any given time.
That's why the shotgun approach y'all used is best, IMHO. The exposure to
the material may not have a noticable effect on them at the time, only to
blossom into a genuine interest later. Providing multiple schemes greatly
increases your chances for success.
I don't recall hearing about the melanistic chrysotus before. (No
surprise...sometimes I can't recall yesterday.) If you have any pics of
them, I'd really like to see them. If you have any you'd like to trade,
that would be even better!
Steven A. Ellis
At 10:49 PM 5/7/02 -0500, you wrote:
>Well, since Jan seems reluctant (too busy) to talk about the event he
>organized last Saturday, I'll take up the mantle. "Fabulous Fishes" was
>held at the Clinton Community Nature Center near Jackson, MS. Based on
>past events we expected an attendance of 200 people, but owing to the fact
>that the Jackson paper did not print the press release, we had "only" 115
>registered visitors. There were several distinguished visitors to help man
>various stations, including Neil Douglas who presented me with an
>autographed copy of "Fishes of Louisiana" (Thanks Neil!) since I missed out
>on my last opportunity. The attendees were mostly youngsters, who received
>some sort of school credit for visiting each of four "mandatory"
>stations. Neil staffed the fish ID station, where he had an array of
>pickled fishes for the kids to handle and figure out what they were. I had
>an "optional" aquarium setup station which was a disaster because the water
>was all murky from the gravel I _thought_ I had cleaned. The nice welaka
>and signipinnis were totally obscured, but the little gar I had caught two
>days previously (whilst searching for sand darters and shadow bass in the
>Strong River) displayed himself nicely, despite being picked up off the
>carport floor the previous day by my wife as she left for work that
>morning. But actually the big hit at the aquarium station was the test kit
>(donated by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) - the kids didn't care about the fish
>but loved doing pH, NH3, etc. tests with the little test tubes and
>chemicals! There was also a fish scale station - all different kinds of
>fish scales the kids could look at with dissecting scopes and what not. I
>had to chuckle when I overheard Jan instructing one of the volunteers in
>the use of a rather large, curled section of gar skin - "Get them to put
>their arm inside and feel what it's like to actually BE a gar...", etc.
>:-) There was also a respiration experiment with goldfish and bowfin, a
>fishing gear demo, a magnetic "match the fish" game, and perhaps most
>interesting was the dissection station manned by Steven George in the
>pouring rain (actually helped keep the stench down), featuring paddlefish,
>sharks, sturgeon, and I would presume a bony fish or two but I don't
>remember seeing one. I enjoyed his demonstration of how to pull out a
>notochord! I also got a kick out of his stuffed eel ("He'll mount
>ANYTHING" said Jan). There was a fish skeleton station which seemed to be
>the biggest hit, and a selection of fish skulls which I personally found
>the most interesting. Oh, there was a GAMAKATU (or whatever you call it, I
>can never remember) station where you make ink blots of real fishes on
>paper, and lots of givaways (which seemed mainly to distract the kids from
>the real business at hand). Sadly, the beautiful NANFA display went
>largely unnoticed, but lots of NANFA T-shirts were worn :-).
>Anyway, after the show wound down, Jan and I had time to discuss various
>things, and somehow the topic of melanistic F. chrysotus came up. I
>mentioned that I had found a population of these guys, which appear
>identical to the xanthic form except wherever the former is yellow, these
>guys are BLACK. They look almost like mollies, that's how black they
>are. The males in good color have red tails too, just like the normal
>xanthic chrysotus, but it looks really awesome against that black body with
>lighter bands. Jan said he had seen these too, although not in the same
>part of the state. We were comparing habitat notes to see if we could pin
>down the reason for this particular adaptation. It will be interesting to
>see if the coloration persists in F1 and F2 offspring reared in an
>aquarium. I will let you guys know how it works out - evidently nobody is
>really investigating these fish.
>Lots of photos were taken and presumably will be posted to the NANFA page
>when Jan gets back from the field and has time to do so. This was LOADS of
>fun and I can't wait to do it again in September. It seems this is the
>direction the MS chapter of NANFA is taking, rather than collecting trips,
>etc., (I never really thought of it that way until Charlie pointed it out
>in his last memo), so that is where my future efforts will be focused.
>Oh hey, I just noticed a newborn Heterandria in the mayonaisse-jar
>"aquarium" on my desk :-) More another time...
>Life's a fish and then you fry.
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