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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

College students discover Duck River's variety of fish species

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Students from Professor David Neely's class from Sewanee took a dip in the Duck River Thursday as part of their fisheries study, checking how many different types of fish can be found in the river.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely) [Order this photo]
On warm days, many locals take a trip to Fisherman's Park on the bank of the Duck River to cool their toes or toss a line in to see if they get a bite.

But on Thursday, a group of college students came down from the University of the South to do both.

Led by Professor David Neely, an adjunct research associate at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute in Chattanooga, the students donned hip waders and tried to catch as many fish as they could.

Counting fish

The trip was part of a fisheries, ecology and management class, Neely said, to see what was in the river and do a community assessment.

Neely explained they were trying to see what types of species occur here, saying the Duck River was "neat, because it's a really diverse site ...there's a lot here."

That's not surprising since The Nature Conservancy's "Rivers of Life" lists the river as the No. 2 aquatic hot spot in the nation, with 33 at-risk fish and mussel species.

The Duck is considered the most biologically diverse river in North America, with 54 species of freshwater mussels, 24 species of riversnails and 151 fish species.

Students meet in the water during a discussion of the many species found in Duck River.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely) [Order this photo]
Rare spot

Neely said he and his students had found 40 to 45 species in just two hours.

"There's not too many places in the U.S. you can go and do that," he said, noting that Arizona only has 30 species in the entire state.

Sometimes the classes take samples on lakes and reservoirs, learning different techniques so the students can use them if they do fisheries work after graduation.

The students check out a different body of water each week, and will be heading to east Tennessee next to look at a spawning migration that is similar to salmon spawning out west, Neely said.

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