NANFA '96 National Meeting Report
By Warren H. Lund, Jr. NANFA '96 Coordinator
Reprinted from American Currents spring 1997 issue.
The NANFA '96 National Meeting took place in the New Orleans area on the weekend of June 14th through 16th. We had a nice turnout, with some members coming from as far away as New Hampshire and Wisconsin to the north, Kansas to the west, and all areas in between. The meeting was a casual, non-business affair, and we relied on our attendees to let us know what they wanted to do and see.
On Friday -- "check in" day -- we visited the Aquarium of the Americas, on the Mississippi Waterfront. The Aquarium is truly impressive, and includes a display of many of our southern native fishes, including some huge blue (Ictalurus furcatus) and channel (I. punctatus) catfishes. We were also impressed with the Amazon section, which featured red-belly piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) and giant red-tailed catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus). Other exhibits focused on fish of Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Also on display were the area's world famous white alligators, and temporary exhibits of fish mating habits and jelly fish. Afterwards we had dinner at one of the local restaurants on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain and feasted on some of the region's traditional seafood delights.
On Saturday morning we held a brief "General Session" during which we discussed the field collection trips we had planned for the next day. The session featured door prizes awarded to some of our lucky participants. One of the prizes, an especially nice knife and sheath, was donated by the Memphis Net and Twine Company. Ric Post of Houston was the lucky winner.
Our NANFA expedition then headed to the North Shore area of Lake Pontchartrain in search of local native fish species. From the freshwater sites, we collected a small alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), three or four species of sunfish, pygmy sunfish (Elassoma zonatum), least killifish (Heterandria formosa), three Fundulus species (F. chrysotus, F. notti and F. olivaceus), pirate perch (Aphredoderus sayanus), shadow bass (Ambloplites ariommus) and mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis).
The fresh-to-brackish water sites yielded an impressive diversity of species. We were especially impresed with the wild-type green sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna). These came from Lake Ponchartrain, where the species was first collected and described.
Later, we collected gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis), rainwater killifish (Lucania parva), and sheepshead topminnow (Cyprinodon variegatus). We also collected a few specimens of the Gulf pipefish (Syngnathus scovelli). This species is a member of the seahorse family, and several of the males we caught were carrying eggs!
Plants we observed included Bacopa, Ludwigia, Naja, hornwort, and the carnivorous pitcher plant.
That same weekend, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) were in New Orleans for their convention. The group was kind enough to provide us with a room in which we could hold a cocktail party and spend time with the NANFA members who were also with ASIH but were unable to join us for our other activities. There was plenty of food, beer and soft drinks available, as well as the company of plenty of "fishy" characters.
Sunday morning was reserved for rest and relaxation, and the preparations for the NANFA cookout that afternoon. Everyone met at my house for a feast of New Orleans-boiled crawfish, Cajun jambalaya, sandwiches, barbecued hamburgers and other goodies. At about 3 p.m. we held the raffle drawing. The top prize was a beautiful 5-piece set of darter prints signed and numbered by the artist, NANFA member Joe Tomelleri, which he had generously donated for the raffle. A bathing beauty in a bikini (6-year-old Kimberly Lund) drew the winning name. The lucky winner was Laura Tesler of Corvallis, Oregon. Congratulations, Laura!
Although NANFA '96 is over, it is far from forgotten. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much that they want to do it again this year. For those of you who missed out last year, we hope you'll be able to join us for NANFA '97, August 8-10, 1997, in Portland, Orgeon. (Details and registration form are at the bottom of page 34). Even though the '96 meeting was a success, this year's will be even better. Bring the family, as we'll have something to offer everyone. We hope you will join us.
I would like to thank the following for their contributions to the NANFA '96 National Meeting:
And everyone who participated in NANFA '96, for helping to make this event a success!