11 Aug Saying Goodbye to Point Reyes
Today is my last day at Point Reyes National Seashore. Although I am bummed about leaving such a beautiful, unique area, I am excited for what the future holds and would like to reflect on my experience here and tools learned here.
Throughout my internship I have learned valuable lessons in regard to leadership, communication, and boundaries. I have also learned more technical skills handling fish such as obtaining biometric information on fish, proper electrofishing technique, and species identification. As a forestry student, I had little experience with the standard operating protocols (SOPs) that consume the base of fisheries. Such surveying methods included habitat typing, snorkeling, electrofishing, and seining– all of which I was able to learn and participate in this summer.
As mentioned in prior blog posts, habitat typing is a survey method used to identify specific types of habitats throughout a creek. Using a metric stadia rod and a measuring tape, we delineate each area as a pool (mid-channel or scour), flatwater, backwater, or riffle. With this data we determine areas with suitable salmonid habitat to then follow up with snorkel and electrofishing/seining surveys.
Snorkel surveys involve a flashlight, a snorkel, and a wetsuit. Using the habitat data and markings, we snorkel 25% of pools within the creek while also identifying and counting all species present.
Seining is another survey method that may be utilized in areas too shallow or in intertidal areas where an electric current would be damaging to the nearby fish. This method uses a seine net which is a large net with weights on one edge and floats on the other that hangs vertically in the water and is used to enclose and catch fish when its ends are pulled together.
Electrofishing is a common scientific survey method that uses a backpack producing a current of electricity that flows between a submerged cathode and anode. With proper technique one can form a wall of electricity within the water, causing nearby fish to swim towards the anode in an involuntary manner, making it possible to net them quickly with little harm done to the fish.
Both seining and electrofishing are used in the San Francisco Area Network’s Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program (SFAN CSMP) to collect population data and biometric information on specific species of fish. Snorkeling is used as a preliminary population measurement, followed by seining and/or electrofishing to further establish these counts.
Overall, the skills learned here at Point Reyes are incredibly valuable as I return back to school. This fall semester I will be going abroad to Moorea in Tahiti through a geomorphology program. While in Moorea I hope to utilize my newly acquired knowledge to develop a project involving fish abundance and population levels in areas heavily affected by fishing and/or tourism. I hope to further inform management decisions to promote a diverse, healthy aquatic ecosystem throughout the coast. Additionally, I hope to snorkel every day and further my knowledge in regard to ichthyology and related conservation methods.