Field work blues

Tropical storm…… slow moving…….. heavy rain……. breezy……. Not the phrases you want to hear when you need to go deep into the Everglades and do a days worth of electrofishing before June ends.  Thanks to tropical storm Debby, I am going to have to sample in an orange tropical threat level! 

One valuable lesson that I have learned over the few years that I have been doing field work is that if you wait till the last minute to sample,  super natural forces will make sure that your crucial sampling is impossible to finish.  Either something that you can’t fix will break, some plague will sweep through  your  lab making everyone too sick to help, or a tropical storm will park itself over south Florida.

The weather report however does look less bad tomorrow. So we are going out! wooO!   Because of all this rain, freshwater will be racing off upstream marshes and pouring into the estuary, which maybe something that snook prefer.  Fast moving water might dislodge prey from their hiding spots, flushing them into the main channels, making them easy prey for a hungry snook waiting at ambush sites. 

In the Peace river in South Florida, snook abundance and body condition (similar to a Body Mass Index) is very tightly and positively linked water flow into the rivers and inundation of surrounding floodplains. A few years ago at the end of a particularly rainy wet season, the snook in the peace river got so fat that anglers thought they were catching a new snook species they called the humpback snook! These snook look something like this!

 So hopefully we can find some snook tomorrow with full bellies!


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