We’re Suckers for Citizen Science

Two kids sitting on buckets outside

Ever wondered what’s going on along the shoreline and under the waves? Last summer, our staff filmed an episode for a new show on TVOkids called FishHeads. The series encourages youth to become citizen scientists and explore aquatic life.

The hosts worked alongside our experts. We highlighted a group of fish species call Suckers to help people at home feel inspired by nature.

You can be a citizen scientist too! Fishing is just one way to observe fish. Fish viewing is another option, similar to birdwatching. Fish can be seen from shore with a pair of polarized sunglasses. With practice, you can take pictures of fish as well! You can make observations of fish and report sightings on websites like iNaturalist.ca. Sharing your observations, especially with photos is a great way to contribute to citizen science.

Meet the Experts

Jon Clayton – CVC’s Aquatic Ecologist

What’s your favourite fish to catch?

The easiest answer is whatever I can! The tougher answer is to choose a single fish. Each species is unique, and each experience is different. If I could only fish for one species for the rest of my life, I would pick Smallmouth Bass or Muskellunge – It’s hard to pick just one! Smallmouth Bass are feisty, acrobatic and at home in both rivers and lakes. They always remind me of camping trips on the Canadian Shield.

Did you always love science growing up?

Growing up, I loved watching nature shows. I spent summers birdwatching and catching frogs, turtles, snakes and fish. My parents took me camping and fishing, which sparked my interest at a young age. I remember thinking about becoming a veterinarian but opted for an environmental career instead.

When is your favourite time of year to monitor fish activity?

Phil Bird – CVC’s Watershed Monitoring Specialist

What’s your best memory fishing?

There are a few! Catching Brook Trout with my dad, exploring a new area with a good friend, or going for a peaceful solo trip. It’s always about the experience of being in nature, learning about the habitats and behavior of fish and seeing other wildlife. Recreational fishing is rarely just about catching fish.

There are many lesser known, interesting fish species. Can you tell us about one hiding right under our noses?

The Rainbow Darter is a striking, colourful, native species in the Perch family. These fish are small and fast. They dart around and feed on small aquatic insects. A grown-up is only about 5 cm long. Many fish have a swim bladder which is filled with air that helps them float, but Rainbow Darters don’t. Since they live right on the bottom of the stream, they don’t need to float.

Do you have a favourite fun fish fact?

Many fish in our local streams are lighter coloured on their bellies and darker on their backs. This helps them camouflage. They blend in with darker and lighter surroundings when seen from above or from below in the water.

Learn more about the fish of the Credit River Watershed here.

See Jon and Phil in action an upcoming episode of FishHeads. Fins Up!

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