Monday, October 01, 2007

Underneath the Surface of the Olentangy- a Look at Fish

Although I have put tons of pictures on this blog of what lives around the Olentangy River, I have posted very few pictures of things that live in the Olentangy. Megan and I became aquatic ecologists over the weekend and did something that I've wanted to do ever since moving near the river. Catch some fish.

Yes, I do enjoy fishing for small mouth bass, but this weekend this is not the fish we were after. I was looking for darters and other fish that live in the stream. These fish have really intense colors, and are just neat. Most people don't see these animals because they are pretty hard to catch. You have to use a pretty large minnow seine, a type of net, to be able to observe them.

Megan and I set out to see if the population of bluebreast darter still was present in the Olentangy in this stretch of river, in order to update the record in Ohio's Natural Heritage Database. Unfortunately, we were not able to relocate this species, but we saw an photographed a few other very cool fish.

Here is where we worked for a few hours. A little rapids area, known as a riffle, along the Olentangy River.

Ok, that isn't a fish, but it is the rusty crayfish, considered an nuisance species in much of the Midwest. These crayfish have been spread around the country for use as bait, and they can wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems where they have been introduced.

Above we have some type of minnow, but I'm not sure what we have here. I do know that these fish are extremely common along the shore in slow moving areas of the river. Perhaps this is a river chub? I'm calling for a pinch hitter on this one.

We also caught several sand shiners. My co-worker Bob Gable helped out with the ID of this species. He said to notice the little black marks down the side of this fish, and to note the sub-terminal mouth, which is below the "nose" of this fish.

Next up is the first darter species of the day, the greenside darter. This species looks like a ocean dwelling blenny or goby, and has a distinct frog-like head. The green "W" shape markings on its side are also distinctive.

Above and below is the spectacular rainbow darter. It is just hard to believe that we have a fish this handsome living in Ohio let alone the City of Columbus.

This banded darter, I believe, pales in comparison.

Here is a log perch, just before being released. This one just wouldn't stay still in the acrylic observation box.

And finally, a hogsucker. This juvenile was captured in the seine, but I have seen these suckers get up to six or eight inches. A very neat fish.

So there you have it, some of the fish that live within and depend upon the flowing waters of the Olentangy River.


  1. These fish photos are awsome! Anna :)

  2. Thanks Anna,

    I'm glad you like the photos. I'm still amazed that we have fish like this right here in the City of Columbus.

  3. The rainbow darters posesses remarkably brilliant coloring. I live in Columbus and my girlfriend and I think that it would also be a great idea to bring a seine out to a stream and discover what local aquatic life we surface with.