RE: NANFA-- Fabulous Fishes (long)

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Tue, 14 May 2002 09:54:06 -0500

This event sounds absolutely fantastic. Every time that I have read Martin
and Jan's posts, I have thought "How can I use that idea here?" If either
of you have any specifics on how the various activities were run, I would
really appreciate hearing them. We do a snake version of this event at the
FWNC&R which is very popular and adding a fish event would be great!!!
Thanks for all your hard work folks!

Rob Denkhaus
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS
> Sent: Friday, May 10, 2002 5:35 PM
> To: ''
> Subject: RE: NANFA-- Fabulous Fishes (long)
> Martin, thanks very much for the kind words and the excellent
> account of the
> "Fabulous Fishes" program at Clinton Community Nature Center
> (CCNC). But I
> cannot accept all that credit. A lot of people contributed
> generously of
> their time and resources. To give proper credit where it is due...
> Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S.
> Fish and Wildlife
> Service, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, and the Mississippi Department of
> Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks contributed prizes, materials,
> activities,
> and audio-visual materials. And, 37 volunteers cheerfully
> helped to set up
> and run the program.
> NANFA personnel and their roles included:
> Dena Dickerson (my wife) masterminded the event and kept everything on
> schedule (I do not have the necessary planning skills). She
> started working
> on "Fabulous Fishes" more than two months ago, and during the
> three weeks
> prior to the big day, spent most of her free time working on
> organization,
> communications, logistics, and educational materials (most of
> which were
> original). She also created and manufactured the four fish
> games played by
> the visitors. On the big day itself, Dena did double duty as MC and
> photographer. She lived "Fabulous Fishes" for weeks before
> it happened.
> Andy Borgia contributed mermaids' purses and bones of marine fishes
> including the jaw of a barracuda. His specimens were used at multiple
> stations.
> Neil Douglas hosted "Name That Fish" using freshwater and
> marine specimens
> from the Museum of Zoology, University of Louisiana at
> Monroe. His wife,
> Shirley, hosted the Fish Bingo game. They were the "Dynamic
> Duo" of fish
> taxonomy.
> Steven George dissected a shark, paddlefish, sturgeon, and
> some sort of
> teleost (I forget which species). He did this outdoors, in
> the rain, for
> three hours without a break, tirelessly. His table, set up
> next to the
> porch of the visitors' center, allowed the onlookers to stay dry (even
> though he was drenched). It is a tribute to Steven's
> contagious enthusiasm
> for comparative anatomy that the visitors would watch in
> fascination as he
> deconstructed these "living fossils" without once saying
> "eeww," "yuch," or
> "gross." Also, during the two weeks prior to "Fabulous
> Fishes," Steven was
> a veritable one-man biological supply company, churning out
> dried fish,
> bleached sucker skulls, and mummified fish heads.
> Jack Killgore, while on a field trip to the Ouachita River, collected
> specimens needed for our fish diet study. These specimens
> allowed kids to
> identify fish food based on their experiences at our previous
> Nature Center
> program, "Bugs Alive."
> William Lancaster prepared and contributed fishes and fish
> parts for our
> various anatomical explorations. Because of him we were able to show
> visitors firsthand the wonders of internal organs, otoliths,
> pharyngeal
> teeth, gill arches, and skeletal structure.
> Bradley Lewis demonstrated angling and sampling techniques.
> He showed kids
> how to fish, played a fish matching game with them, and
> passed out jelly
> lures and pocket identification guides. Some of these kids
> have never caught
> a fish themselves, and now they know how.
> Martin Moore underestimates the success of his station. Many
> visitors that
> day and afterwards have commented on his How to Set Up an
> Aquarium exhibit.
> His Notropis welaka and Pteronotropis signipinnis are
> thriving in the lobby
> of the visitor's center. People coming to the Nature Center, who had
> previously ignored the sparsely populated aquarium (a few
> darters and a
> couple of topminnows) are now asking questions about the
> abundant beautiful
> shiners now inhabiting it.
> Catherine Murphy brought the dead back to life. She took
> "simple" skulls,
> skeletons, and disarticulated bones and showed visitors how
> they represented
> the diversity and complexity of local fish communities.
> Future forensic
> ichthyologists were fascinated.
> Charlie Nunziata transformed my disjointed photographs and
> text files into
> a cohesive and eye-catching poster. This part of the
> exhibit will get
> extended use at the Nature Center.
> Chris Scharpf accelerated production of the Spring American
> Currents so we
> would have extra issues to give away as premiums for new members. An
> internal "failure to communicate" kept me from receiving
> these in time for
> Fabulous Fishes, but the end result, an attractive and
> taxonomically diverse
> issue, will be an invaluable marketing tool for attracting
> new members.
> One measure of success for an outreach program is the
> enthusiasm people will
> show for it after it is all over. Based on that criterion, "Fabulous
> Fishes" was a success. Visitors and volunteers alike have expressed
> interest in doing this all over again. Dena tells me that
> its being put on
> the 2002-2003 agenda for CCNC.
> One last note - We have left the NANFA display set up at the Clinton
> Community Nature Center. It consists of the poster (a
> three-sheeter on
> poster board), reprints of AC articles, display copies of AC,
> brochures on
> NANFA and on the NANFA grants. It sits on a colorful, sunfish-pattern
> tablecloth (made by Dena's mom, Faye Dickerson). It is very
> eye-catching,
> and I am confident that it will generate interest in native
> fishes and in
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Irate_Mormon
> Sent: Tuesday, May 07, 2002 10:50 PM
> To:
> Subject: NANFA-- Fabulous Fishes and intriguing personality test
> 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...
> Prost,
> Martin
> Jackson, MS
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/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,