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FY 2016 Program Highlights

FACES IN CONSERVATION


Marilyn 'Guppy' Blair, Fish Health Veterinarian, Idaho Fish Health Center
Marilyn Blair collecting data at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center

Marilyn “Guppy” Blair joined the Service 20 years ago in 1996, a year when only 30 million people in North America who used the internet, and likely did so with a dial-up modem and an AOL account.

Guppy is a Veterinary Medical Officer at the Idaho Fish Health Center located in Ahsahka, Idaho. The Center -- along with eight others like it around the country --uses a staff of highly-trained veterinarians and microbiologists to promote and protect aquatic animal health. The work contributes to the health, survival, restoration, and enhancement of fish and other aquatic species. It also supports hatchery operations to provide quality fish.

Guppy’s day-to-day work involves examining and dissecting juvenile salmon and steelhead for disease problems that might exist in the hatchery populations. She also examines and removes tissue samples from returning adult salmon and steelhead during spawning, which are analyzed for the presence of fish pathogens. Guppy could also be seen attending Hatchery Evaluation Team meetings or in the laboratory running tests.

Guppy is a federally accredited and state licensed veterinarian. She is also a Certified Aquatic Animal Health Inspector and Certified Pathologist by the American Fisheries Society Fish Health Section and a FWS Certified Title 50 Inspector.

Her favorite part of the job is performing diagnostic examinations to determine the presence of disease in fish. “It’s really like CSI detective work or a medical examiner for fish," she says.

Diagnostic exams bring in many disciplines including; knowledge of diseases, hatchery practices, nutrition, physiology, pharmacology, etc. “There are constantly new or different twists to an old disease, so I’m always learning." Guppy gathers as much information as she can from the clues that are observed; such as environmental conditions, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, or stressors such as tagging or predation. This information is gathered by working together closely with Service and Nez Perce Tribal staff at Dworshak, Kooskia, and Hagerman National Fish Hatcheries.

After Guppy gathers all the background information, she’ll examine the fish and remove tissue samples to be tested in the laboratory to determine what diseases the fish might have or any other problems such as nutritional or developmental issues. Depending on the laboratory findings, Guppy may recommend changes in hatchery practices or methods, or provide a chemical treatment to improve the health of the fish. “It brings great satisfaction being able to help and provide expertise when a problem arises; to be able to work together with others to help save and promote the health of the resource."

Guppy feels the most challenging but most exciting and rewarding aspect of the job is collaborating with the many diverse professionals within the Service, Tribes, other agencies and partnerships. “We all come together with a common goal of helping the resource."

--Sean Connolly , Pacfiic Region Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program

Marilyn "Guppy" Blair

Years with the Service
20
What She Does
Guppy is a Veterinary Medical Officer at the Idaho Fish Health Center.
What She Loves
In her free time Guppy enjoys jogging, horseback riding, hiking, biking, and kayaking.
Quotable Quote
“It brings great atisfaction being able to help and provide expertise when a problem arises, to be able to work together with others to help save and promote the health of the resource.”
Last Updated: April 12, 2017
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