Fish Surveys 

The health of a stream can be assessed by finding out just exactly what organisms are living in it. 

Volunteers wade with nets and buckets to sample fish brought to the water's surface by electro-fishing device.  Fish are returned to the creek after being counted and identified.

The first fish survey on Chartiers Creek was conducted on the section by the Idlewood Wetlands across from Rosslyn Industrial Park in the summer of 1999.  Aquatic life specialist Robert Ventorini, with Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc. used an "electro fishing" device that allows collection without killing.. Aided by volunteers, 97 fish were caught and 17 species identified.

"This was quite surprising and encouraging," said conservationist Mickey Bannon, one of the volunteers, who had expected only four or five species. Ventorini said the wide range of fish showed that the waterway was making a comeback. 

The largest sized fish were the carp (15") and a freshwater drum (10"). 

carp from the creek (you wouldn't believe the one that got away!)

About 600 feet of the creek was sampled over a half hour. Of the 97 fish, 25% were the intermediate pollution-tolerant emerald shiner, 18% were common carp, and 18% were greenside darter. A couple very young smallmouth bass, which apparently had been reproduced naturally from spawning, shows that the creek is indeed fishable for sport catch and return.

Three fish species cannot tolerate pollution at all.  

Two of these pollution intolerant species had more than one catch: 2 longnose dace, 5 northern hogsucker, and 1 banded darter. Nearly two-thirds of the fish were "intermediate tolerant" while only a quarter of the population (carp,  chub, sucker, bluntnose minnow and bullhead) could tolerate large amounts of pollution.

The latest fish survey was performed this past summer.  How does it compare to the first and subsequent surveys?  Has more aquatic habitat been created or have there been setbacks since hurricane Ivan?  How has the dredging of Chartiers Creek by the Army Corps, which removes vital habitat, affected the health and variety of aquatic organisms living there?


Macro-Invertebrate Surveys

How healthy is the ecosystem of Chartiers Creek?  Annual macroinvertebrate surveys are performed by Washington & Jefferson College biology students on Chartiers Creek in the upper watershed.