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A Fish Tale with a Happy Ending

A Fish Tale with a Happy Ending

Hurricane Matthew Strands Discovery Lake Inhabitants

Bridge overlooking Discovery Lake
Before the hurricane struck, the small cove at Bridge 3 was peaceful. Small fish were swimming about on Friday, October 7, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)

By Bill Willis

November 2, 2016

Discovery Lake felt the effects of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 as winds and rain pelted the area. Even though a total of 4.7 inches of rain fell, the NIEHS campus was spared the storm’s fury, the physical damage limited to leaves and small limbs littering the roadways and walkways. The lake shoreline and low-lying areas were flooded by rising water and fish were found trapped at Bridge #3.

Willow tree by the bridge
Prior to the storm, a willow tree and rocks created a small earthen dam on the other side of the bridge.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
High Tide mark at Memorial Garden
After the storm, the high tide mark at the Memorial Garden was more than 6 feet up the lawn. The lake level was 24 inches higher than normal.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
High Tide Bands
The high tide bands contained duckweed, dead protozoans, floating algae, pine needles and leaves all washed upon shore.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
Fish in a beaker
The fish were carefully placed into a beaker to be checked for injury. Ranging in size from 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inches long, all appeared fine.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
Pool beyond the willow tree
Later in October, it was discovered that the small pool beyond the willow tree created by the dam had trapped fish. This impoundment only had enough water for a few weeks.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
Puddle fish are stranded in
When the lake returned to its banks, the fish couldn't get back to the water, leaving them stranded.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
Angela and Sandra netting fish
With the help of Angela Dickerson and Sandra Hackney, CMB, the fish were netted. Remarkably, all the fish were alive, having avoided predation and withstood temperature fluctuations.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Willis)
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