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Environmental Biology Students Assist NCWRC with Fish Study at River Park North

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

PCC environmental biology students measure the length of a 12-pound common carp captured as part of a scientific study at River Park North. Carp are large bottom-feeders that can grow in excess of 50 pounds. They are rarely caught with fishing poles.

GREENVILLE—Pitt Community College students enrolled in an environmental biology course this fall recently participated in a hands-on, scientific study of pond fish at Greenville’s River Park North.

Working alongside fisheries biologists from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) Oct. 23, the students helped capture, tag and release fish from a pond at the 324-acre park, which is located on Mumford Road.

After a quick safety course on how to properly handle and tag fish, the students took turns working on a ‘shock boat,’ which sends electrical currents into the water that temporarily stun fish and cause them to float to the surface. The students used nets to capture the fish and place them into a live well on the boat.

On shore, students tagged the fish using tags and tagging methods utilized by the NCWRC. In all, they collected 225 fish representing 14 different species – everything from black crappie, bluegill and catfish to sunfish, bowfin and largemouth bass.

“We tagged all of the fish we collected, except for the American eels,” said PCC Biology Instructor Samantha Chauncey. “Those cannot be tagged but are still weighed, measured and counted.

“We did get to hold the eels, or at least tried to, since they are very slippery and can crawl out of a live well.”

Chauncey says information was recorded on each fish the students collected, including species, length and weight. She says the data will help wildlife biologists and River Park North staff estimate the population of each fish species at the park, analyze the overall health of the fish, calculate and assess biodiversity of the park’s ecosystem, and know how and when to stock ponds for public use.

Chauncey noted that unique and prize fish caught during the tagging process are used to stock the aquarium inside River Park North’s museum.

“Go see our beautiful fish and notice the PCC tags they proudly wear,” she said.