On the beautifully mild evening of Saturday January 27th, hearty club members joined Dr. Fred Schueler, Aleta Karstad, PhD Post doc researchers Matt Keevil and Amanda Bennett for an evening of releasing, catching and PIT tagging Mudpuppies at Oxford Mills.
On arrival, Matt gave us some basic information about mudpuppies and discussed his process PIT tagging which involves insertion of tiny (1×3 mm) cylinders that allow the radio identification of the mudpuppies. We then descended a small embankment to the base of the falls: I have never seen a bunch of people so happy to walk into an icy cold fast flowing stream as the group was that night. One of whom even took her socks off so that she could go into deeper, boot filling water.
After netting mudpuppies of various sizes and determining that none of them were already tagged, they were brought back into the parking lot where they were measured and weighed. After then being wrangled into a glass tube, Matt made tiny incisions in the skin of the base of their tails and eased the PIT tags in under the skin. Their pattern of dorsal spots was photographed for further identification purposes.
The scientific discoveries of the night were that none of the ones caught were among the 12 Matt & Amanda had previously tagged (Per Fred and Aleta “Maybe they’re downstream sulking”) and that 9 of the 10 were females, as were 8 of the ten M&A had tagged earlier that week before the ice storm,
suggesting that all these years they may have mostly been seeing females at the Mudpuppy Nights.
Mudpuppy Nights in Oxford Mills are regularly held on Friday nights during the fall and winter when water levels permit. If you have never been, do find an opportunity to go. There is no fee but donations are gratefully accepted and you must register first.
For more information: www.fragileinheritance.ca
More information about radio tagging: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio-frequency_identification