Every year, over $48 billion is spent on fishing in America. This is why a group of researchers decided to study what types of fish are in our lakes, more specifically the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes in Alabama.
Bernie Fuller is one of nine researchers that took part on the expedition last week. Rather than simply throwing out a line and catching each fish, a new method was used called electrofishing.
A small electrical charge was fed into the water, momentarily incapacitating the fish. One by one, the fish started floating slowly to the top of the water and were scooped up in a net and placed in a holding tank.
The shock left the fish in a zombie-like trance, allowing the researchers to measure them, weigh them, and check them for disease and parasites. “I’ve learned there’s a lot of fish in here,” Fuller said, after he saw the fish rising to the top of the water.
Fisheries biologist John Justice assured onlookers that the fish rarely have lasting effects from the shock. “Generally speaking they recover within a few seconds to a couple of minutes,” he said. Justice explained that electrofishing allows biologists to uncover valuable information about the conditions of their lakes. “By looking at the overall health and condition of the fish we collect we can tell a lot about what’s going on with the fishery,” Justice said.
Nearly 200 bass and crappie were collected from Wheeler Lake, and were then released after being studied. Roger Morris, a local fisherman, said that all of the fish looked really healthy. He also said that seeing how many fish were actually in the lake, and where they were located, would make him a better, more patient, fisherman.
Image via Wikimedia Commons