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Collecting Our Living Collection

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Tags: living collections, Biology, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, crayfish, minnows, field work

Created: 6/26/2013      Updated: 8/9/2016

It's a question I get asked all the time, ‘where do you get your animals from?’ There is no short answer, some are donated, some are left at our door, some are purchased, some are bred in house and some we go out and collect. For this last group we can’t just go out randomly picking up any animal we like the look of, as a scientific institution we have to have all the appropriate paperwork and permits to allow us to collect our specimens. Also we are collecting creatures for live display so we have to be very mindful of our collection methods.

This past week we were out collecting fish for our tanks in the Riverworks exhibit. Last year when we did this we had very little water to work in because of the drought, this year we had the opposite problem!

Biology team wading through a river

Trying to use a seine net in rushing water is a bit of a challenge to say the least and for the species we were looking for we needed to find some quieter bodies of water. It took us a while but we eventually found some good spots.

The seine net is held in place while a couple of people drive the fish forward into it.

Biology team catching fish

The net is then scooped up at the last moment to secure the fish in the middle of the net. This method ensures the fish are completely unharmed in the process and also allows us a good view of everything in the net.

Biology team examining their haul

You never know what you are going to find in the net, which is all part of the fun. This particular scoop had a number of huge Bullfrog tadpoles in it and also a rather startled looking frog in amongst the mud and weed. They all got safely returned to the water.

Bull Frog tadpoles

We were looking for compatible species to the ones we already have on display so this haul of Top Minnows were a great addition.

Minnows

Some of our cache is photographed and then returned to the river, like this beautiful Heelsplitter mussel.

Heelsplitter mussel

We also ‘do our bit’ collecting up invasive species. Well actually, one particular invasive species, the Rusty Crayfish. An extremely popular snack for our Blanding’s Turtles!

Rusty Crayfish

Inspite of the high water levels we had a very successful trip, bringing home lots of new fish which will undergo a 30 day quarantine period before going on display.

Celeste Troon, Director of Living Collections

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