Memories for a Lifetime

The Texas Field Ecology trip brought with it many great opportunities and memories. From the van rides, to kayaking, and to just learning about a completely different ecological world. Even though I had fun with every activity along the way, my favorite was the opportunity we had to sein fish I had never seen before.

The day began early, as we wanted to get into the water as soon as possible. We started by seining a larger river. We collected a few new species here that the group that went the day before had not collected yet.  We collected some topwater minnows such as the black stripe and black spot.  We also collected a species of shad that I had never seen before.  The habitat we collected the most diversity in was where a sand bar had washed away into a deep hole.  The fish would be concentrated right where the sand bar stopped.

The next place we sampled felt like we were in sort of a different world. We had to drive back on a low maintenance back road through the swamps of the Big Thicket.  It was full of cypress trees. It honestly looked like the perfect snake habitat, which was a little eery.  At one of the small water bodies that we stopped by that went under the road, a snake slithered away.  Cooper jumped into Casey’s lap as he shit his pants. We then drove a little further and climbed into the snake infested water.  Once you were in there, it really wasn’t that bad.  We caught a few different species at this location as well, with one of them being a yellow bullhead. We also caught ghost shiners and another new species of shiner at this location.  Right before we were about to leave this location, we walked up on a water snake hanging out in a tree just a few yards from us.

We then went to a river that the other group had sampled, but just further down stream.  We tried electrofishing, but it was to deep to be successful. The only thing we shocked was a bass, which we thought was a largemouth.  The people with the seins also did not have much luck here.  We then went to a location that was very easy to sein.  Next, we went to the same location that the other group had all of the success at. We sampled a few different species from the centrarchid family. We sampled a few flyers and also a long eared sunfish.  We then went into the river, where the ground was very gravel like.  We figured we would sample more darters, but we only got a couple log perch.  The other group seined a good sized spotted gar, which was very cool to see.


We also had the opportunity to do some seining in the marine environment.  This was something I never thought I would have the chance to experience.  Some of the fish that we seined up were extremely beautiful. The majority of these fish were pinfish. We seined up a cool looking young flounder as well.  When we were seining in the estuary, it was very similar to seining a lake.  Then we seined the open ocean, with 5 foot waves.  This was an incredible experience.  We seined a lot a jacks in this, along with a cool looking lady fish. It was a lot of fun.

Dusty doing some saltwater fish identification

At one of the locations, we came walking around the corner and Cooper was out in the middle of the river swimming.  The kid is a goon.  Jeans on and everything, just soaked,  The experience we had the opportunity to enjoy was one of the greatest memories in my collegiate education career.

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