This past week, Alabama Water Watch (AWW) had the pleasure of taking part in Auburn University’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Camp, an event where interested high school students from across the country have the opportunity to dedicate a week of their summer vacation to experiencing various aspects of careers in natural resources. These students have the unique opportunity to not only get a glimpse of what their future professions may look like through fun activities like fishing and kayaking, but they also have the chance to experience campus-life by staying in Auburn University’s dormitories and eating at the University’s dining facilities.
AWW has been involved with AU “Fish Camp” since Dr. David Cline, an aquaculture specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University School of Fisheries, founded the program around 10 years ago. As a resident of Alabama, the state with the highest aquatic biodiversity in the country, Cline is passionate about fostering an interest in the health of the country’s water systems and the various species of life that live within them in young people across the nation.
This summer, AWW had the chance to teach the campers about Alabama’s aquatic macroinvertebrates by traveling just a few miles south of town to Parkerson Mill Creek, the very same creek that runs through AU’s campus. Here, Rachel McGuire and Sergio RuizCordova of AWW gave the campers a quick lecture on the various invertebrates they might encounter and what each species could potentially mean for the health of that section of the creek. Then, after swapping into water-appropriate footwear, it was time to get in the water.
The group waded into the creek with dip nets, kick nets, and buckets to start searching for whatever critters might be hiding underneath the surface. The students had a lot of fun getting their feet wet and after less than an hour of work had plenty of little invertebrates to show for it. The group found countless, tiny Mayflies, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, hellgrammites, bloodworms, caddisflies, and even a tiny leech in the creek. Because of the high diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates that were found, the group was able to determine the health of this particular part of Parkerson Mill Creek to be excellent with a biotic index of 27!
AWW is glad to find that so many students care about the health of the world’s water. It’s these kinds of interactions that give us hope for the future, and we hope to continue our relationship with AU Fish Camp and Dr. David Cline for years to come.
All photos courtesy of Dr. David Cline.
Check out Dr. Cline’s YouTube channel to see the 2019 AU Fish Camp highlights!