Tuesday, August 4, 2015 students from Uptown Summer 15 joined biologist Brandon Ballengee and scientists from the New York State Museum for an environmental stewardship down on the Hudson River. Together we brought our pails and walking shoes and met up with the scientists for fishing. Among the scientists were Bryan, Jeremy, and Bob.
We met up was to see what type of fish could be found in the part of the Hudson that runs through Troy and to see if we would find any deformed fish. The Hudson is notoriously so dirty that it is neither safe to swim in or eat fish found in it. This would also be a part of a research study that Brandon Ballengee is completing to determine if fish are tetrapods, or four legged living creatures ( that includes mammals, frogs, and birds). We gathered early yesterday morning down by the river.
The day started lovely but quickly turned to humid and hot. While we lugged camera equipment up and down the Hudson, the scientists put on their gear and ventured into the river. They used a large net to try and capture fish as they swam down stream and eventually they brought out their fish taser that would stun the fish temporarily but not kill them.
We found 2 small fish and 3 tiny eels, nothing bigger than a finger. The eels will grow to about a meter or 3 feet and live 5-30 years. The eels travel to the Atlantic to spawn. The eels we found were not big enough to give a shock. According to Brandon, there is only one variety of eel that can deliver a shock to a human being and it is the electric eel found in South America in the amazon river basin. They use their electricity to see in muddy waters however they do shock their prey but would not likely shock a person. The biggest fish we saw was a dead cat fish that filled the area with a nasty smell of rotting flesh.
According to the scientists who had down the same experiment last year without much success, the best yield was with a boat shocker which allows for adventure in deeper waters. They have found sturgeons, bass, and larger fish of many species. Part of the reason the trip was not successful was due to the use of the net we were using, called a seine and the backpack version of the electric taser. Neither allow for a great reach into the depths of the river.
When asked about the current state of the river Bob said, ” I think it’s not as bad as everyone thinks it is. There is a lot of life out here and it seems to do just fine. The only issue right at the moment is PCBs which just means you shouldn’t eat the fish out of here but not eating them is probably a really good idea for them [the fish].”
There are currently no plans to dredge the river and remove PCB’s. According to the scientists it would be very expensive and a difficult process.
The Modern Scribe,
For the Sanctuary for Independent Media