I don’t often get the opportunity to work with fish and fisheries staff so when my friend Ryan Hupfeld asked me to take the day off and come along on an adventure to make a video for the public to see, I had to jump at the opportunity. Ryan is a Fisheries Biologist for the Iowa DNR who graduated from Upper Iowa University a few years before I attended college there. He was in my brother’s class at UIU so that is how I originally met Ryan. To be honest I do not really know anything significant about fisheries or fish. I would consider it to be one of my weak areas of knowledge in conservation.
I always try to do my best at learning new things and to share them with others. I have had the opportunity to go out and shock fish, and do some studies before with fisheries before, but beyond that, everything you see in the video was basically new to me. No matter how many times you do it, there is always still a rush when that generator fires up and the fish start to surface in front of the boat. One of the neatest things I saw that day was the paddlefish. I’ve never actually seen one in person before. It’s color was a mesmerizing mix of blue and grey. It’s paddle or rostrum extended out beyond its face by at least a foot. I learned that this is used for detecting weak electric fields which can indicate prey and also can help the fish detect movement. Ryan knew a lot about paddlefish because it is what he did his graduate studies on. You can actually find his studies and findings on the internet if you are interested in searching them.
You can also view another video about paddlefish and Ryan here: https://www.iowapbs.org/iowalandandsky/story/31376/missouri-river-paddlefish
I haven’t had the opportunity to see very many shovelnose sturgeon as well, so seeing them one after another be dipped up into the boat was pretty fascinating. They are a rough looking fish. They have a thick coat of armor called scutes that has helped them survive from predators for thousands of years. As you will learn from the video the Iowa DNR is doing some extensive studies on this fish to help with our regulation system and ensuring that they will be around for years to come. Almost all other types of sturgeon in the world have been overharvested mostly for the female eggs to eat as caviar. Biologists, do not want this to happen to the Shovelnose so that is why they are doing this research and possibly updating the regulations.
I am extremely happy I took the day off from work that day, and traveled to Palisades Kepler Park to assist the DNR with the making of this video. I saw things that have been around for millions of years and have managed to survive so many hardships. I saw things that lots of people have never seen before and probably never will. I saw things that have been introduced into our waters that a greatly endangering our native species. I came away with an experience that day that gave me more appreciation for our natural world that I can’t describe, and hopefully, the video I made and brought to you will give you just a little bit of the appreciation I felt that day.