Students harvest, learn about catfish

By: Donathan Prater – OA News

Loachapoka Elementary School students took an unconventional fishing trip Friday—without even leaving campus.

As part of an Aquaculture Project sponsored by PACERS, a group that helps bring academic and cultural programs to rural schools, sixth grade students at the school harvested a catfish pond on campus Friday.

Using a seine net that stretched across the small pond, students harvested more than 100 catfish that were weighed and measured with the data being recorded, according to Loachapoka High School Science instructor Rick Pavek.

After recording data about the catfishes’ diet and their ideal habitat, the catch was cleaned, fried and eaten.

Aside from breading and seasoning, there are a lot of scientific lessons Pavek said.

“From monitoring the oxygen levels in a catfish pond to their spawning habits, the lessons to be learned about these creatures is limitless,” said Pavek.

Loachapoka Elementary School Principal Mary Ross agreed.

“It’s one thing to teach students science but another to teach them how to become scientists,” said Ross.

The catfish harvested by the students at LES were donated by the Auburn University Department of Fisheries, according to Pavek.

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Cause of Eastern Shore fish kill yet unknown

By: Curt Chapman (Staff Writer) –

FAIRHOPE, Ala. — The stench of rotting fish lining the shoreline on the eastern side of Mobile Bay has not gone unnoticed by mexican cialis residents and visitors. Now, scientists are trying to determine why more than 1,000 hardhead catfish and a handful of other species are washing up dead.

“We started receiving calls (last) weekend,” said Kevin Anson, a biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division. “At first they were reported between the Fairhope Pier and Weeks Bay. (Wednesday) the range extended to Village Point and the Bon Secour area.”

Although nearly all the carcasses found so far are the saltwater species considered a trash fish by many anglers, Anson said a few Atlantic croaker, Southern flounder, redfish and sheepshead have been impacted as well.

Several dying catfish were collected and sent to be examined by researchers at the Auburn University Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures. They will be tested for toxins, viruses and bacteria.

Special attention will be given to a virus that possibly caused a catfish kill spanning the entire Gulf of Mexico more than 10 years ago. Anson said the results of those tests could be available as early as Tuesday.

The affected fish show signs of hemorrhaging and sores along the surface of the skin and some have red, bloody fins or gills, Anson said. Officials are advising the public to avoid eating the fish.

“We’ve been in communication with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to let them know what we’re hearing and seeing, to keep them in the loop so they can do what they need to do,” he said.

Anson pointed out that this type of red, bloody ulcers and hemorrhaging in fish can be a fairly common occurrence during the springtime, and to a lesser degree during the fall. He said the change in weather affects fish much like it does humans, by exposing vulnerabilities in the immune system.

Also having an effect, he said, could be the sudden influx of fresh water flowing through the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, brought on by heavy rainfall in the northern part of the state.

“The salinity dropped in the upper bay, and the winds from the south and southwest kept the fish on the Eastern Shore,” Anson said. “As fish die and gas builds up, they’re at the mercy of the wind. It’s unusual, but it’s not like it has never happened before.”

The phenomenon could be in the early stages, he noted, with it persisting another five or six weeks, or perhaps a couple of months. He said, “We’ll wait and see how things develop — if it gets worse.”

To report more fish kill incidents, call (251) 968-7576.

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