Back on the Water Again
The ‘loaner’ trailer came just on time. We got it in working order on Tuesday, and Dr. Nibbelink came for a field visit on Wednesday. It felt good to be back at work again! On Tuesday, we sampled on the South Altamaha River, part of the Altamaha River Sound System. Some call the Altamaha the “Amazon of the South,” and it is really something else. It the third largest source of fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean from North America. The bird and plant diversity is amazing.
Because of the large amount of fresh water discharged from this system, our sites on Tuesday were pretty low salinity , even at high tide. Another problem we have is that there are also a -lot- of trees right along the marsh edge, which means a lot of submerged logs. Logs and trawls do not mix. Therefore, I had to move one site that did not work from the last round, while adding new one (I did 3 trawls in the first round per day, and decided we could do 4 in the second).
Mostly we caught juvenile white shrimp, bay anchovies, and a whole mess of Clupeiformes (too small to differentiate between an anchovy or a menhaden). We also caught a bluefish, and a few small juvenile blue crabs, but one startled me and grabbed me by the finger. Without thinking I jerked my hand back, it grabbed on for the ride and went flying into the marsh grasses. Of course I would do that in front of my adviser!
Later we went fishing, and I caught and released one fish I’d been dying to see: a gafftopsail catfish, one of two marine catfish species found in the estuaries of Georgia.
Yesterday, Matt and I went to sample along along creeks on sites around the Mackay and Frederica Rivers. 8 trawls makes for a long day, and the oyster beds make me nervous, but it was rewarding! We caught a new species we hadn’t seen before (spadefish), striped burrfish, Northern pipefish, a weakfish, blue crab, lesser blue crab, mud crab, Atlantic brief squid, and a mess of grass shrimp and anchovies.
But the real ‘catch of the day’ was the manatee that came up to breathe next to our boat. First one I’ve seen this season.