by Carol Zas
My research in St. John’s, Newfoundland on isolated populations of brook trout requires for me to be able to use a powerful but deadly machine: the BACKPACK ELECTROFISHER. When I tell people outside of fisheries science what I use to catch fish during field work, I’m usually met with aghast faces and complete confusion. I usually describe it as a ghostbusters-esque set up – an anode and cathode are cast in the water creating an electric field with which you can temporarily stun fish in order to collect them for research purposes. It has been shown to be less harmful to the fish than angling, and much easier for collecting individuals for study.
The catch is, this is a very dangerous machine if not used properly! In order to be legally allowed to use it, you must obtain certification. The QCBS generously funded me with an Excellence Award to attend a Class 2 Electrofishing training course hosted by the University of Waterloo in Huntsville, Ontario in May 2015. I attended with my lab mate and we had a great time learning the proper do’s and dont’s of backpack electrofishing, as well as the science behind it. The course consisted of an in-class session, and field session where we put our skills to test with a field examination, and later on an in-class examination. Huntsville, Ontario turned out to be a beautiful place as well.
Thanks you QCBS!