The Shutter Closes on 2016:
Field Photo Highlights from the Mussel Program
BY MEGAN BRADLEY, GENOA NFH
of gulls disturbed by the boat, Plain pocketbook mussels sieved
from their summer home in the cages. Credit: USFWS
Many people look back at the past year, while planning for the year ahead. Freshwater mussel biologists are no different, we spend our time looking back to see what went well, what needs a tweak and what goes on the ‘let’s not try that again’ lists. Best of all are the photos from the year because they capture the big and the small moments. This year was a special one because Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) acquired a new mussel biologist, Megan Bradley, and we bought a GoPro camera, one that will safely weather a dive in the Mississippi or an hour or two on the deck of the mussel boat. We’ve also got a jump on the year and already produced more than 50,000 endangered Winged mapleleaf mussel juveniles and have a system full of mussels ready to grow out for the summer. Take a minute and enjoy the photos that tell the other story of our year in the field. In July the mussel team met up with colleagues from other field offices and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and checked on the status of Sheepnose mussels on the Chippewa River. The water was flowing fast but it’s a beautiful, wild stretch of river.
River, Young of year bass gathered
around dive platform rail, Largemouth bass
on quarry shelf. Credit: USFWS
rescue diver course, White heelsplitter
siphoning at surface, Mucket burrowed into
substrate with siphons visible. Credit: USFWS
In mid-August the two Genoa NFH mussel biologists along with several other US. Fish and Wildlife Service divers, took dive rescue training, to improve their ability to respond if there were an accident in the field. Training culminated in a day of diving in Lake Wazee, a very deep quarry near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The divers had a chance to let down their hair after hours of towing fellow divers and hauling gear and appreciate the biology of the quarry.
October was a busy month of field work for mussels and thankfully was a month of beautiful weather. Two days were spent in Dubuque, Iowa at the Mississippi River museum collecting mussels that grew in cages there for the summer. At this site, biologists boat in from a ramp upstream and use the boat as a floating platform for processing mussels. In addition to the mussels raised here, plenty of other wildlife abounds on the river, even in the busiest ports.