Thanks to the Missouri Aquarium Society, Inc. I had a chance to play with my video camera’s underwater housing in an Ozark stream this week. North American native fish would be an addiction easy to succumb to. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin invasive species laws prevent me from being able to collect fish all over the midwest and bring them back to my fish room. I will just have to stick to video and pictures… they are easier to transport anyway.
We spent half a day filming and netting in Whittenburg Creek, at the town of Steelville, MO, which is a tributary of the Meremac River. The conditions were great. Clear, shallow water on a sunny day. Take a look at the video:I thought the variety of fish we found was great, but the MASI members on hand told me that they usually find more at this location, especially darters. I netted this nice male fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare)
There were two common minnows in the stream, southern redbelly dace (Crosomus erythrogaster)
and bleeding shiners (Luxilus zonatus).
We also found two species of Fundulus killifish: the black spot top minnow (F. olivaceus)
and the northern studfish (F. cantanatus)
Banded sculpin were very common (Cottus carolinae).
Unfortunately, we disturbed a madtom catfish nest, but did not catch the catfish. Here is a picture of the eggs. They were hard like a cory cat egg, and very well attached to the underside of this rock. Mike Hellweg (my host for the trip) took them home to try to hatch them. If anyone can do that, it will be Mike!
We also collected fish in the Meremac River itself, but the water was cloudy and filming poor. Maybe next time!
This episode of Going Gabon documents two days traveling out of the city of Ndjole to the north. We spent one day in the vicinity of Mitzic, a town near the borders of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, and another in larger streams feeding into the Okana River. The Okana is part of the Ogooue River system, the second largest watershed in the Congo ecoregion (second only to the Congo itself) and is contained entirely within Gabon. One of the reasons Gabon is so interesting to fish collectors is that this large, isolated system is home to several endemic species. Enjoy….
We spent a total of three days collecting while based in Makokou, and this video covers the last two day trips. The area is so rich in collecting opportunities and species diversity that you could make an entire 14-day trip just to this region. 1/2 of all the fish species we found on the trip were collected during the three days working out of Makokou!
We left Libreville on out 3rd day in Gabon and drove across the country to the eastern city of Makokou, where we spent three days collecting in the region known best for its abundance of killifish and the cichlid genus Parananochromis. This video shares our experience getting to Makokou and our first day of collecting.
Here is a quick look at some of the fish I brought back from Gabon that are settling in well. So far the only real disappointment were the mormyrids. They did not last the quarantine. One of the coolest is the freshwater pipefish (E. ansorgii). Two of the males that I collected were carrying fry, so now I have MANY of them. They seem to be eating well (paramecium and baby brine). Hopefully they will grow up and add to the group of five adults I collected. Even better… maybe the adults will breed!
The first day of collecting in Gabon was at locations along the road north of Libreville up towards the town of Cocobeach. We had to wait in Libreville for some members of the group having travel difficulties, and for some late-arriving luggage, so those of us already in Gabon decided dipping a net was better than waiting around. The area of Cocobeach does not hold any of our target species, but you never know what you might find. I apologize for the over-use of still images. I apparently had a problem with the memory card I used in the video camera the first few days of the trip, and did not manage to make is home with video footage.