Full report by: Michael Wolfe, Regional Outreach Coordinator and member of the Board of Directors, North American Native Fishes Association
In the summer of 1876, ichthyologist David Starr Jordan and his assistant, Charles H. Gilbert, set out to survey the South Fork of the Ocmulgee River at Flat Rock in Dekalb County. More than 100 years later, members of the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) and the Nongame Conservation Section of Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division traveled to the same site to re-enact the history created by Jordan, one of the greatest ichthyologists of all time. In cooperation with the Nongame Conservation Section, the effort was led by NANFA member Michael Wolfe, who is leading a project to visit type localities for all fish species described from populations in Georgia.
Of course, the area has changed significantly. South Fork is now the South River, and the area is much more urban. However, some things have remained the same. The river is not far from Stone Mountain, and while there have been many changes, the granite shoals are certainly one thing that time has not affected. Wolfe followed enough clues to lead them to the same water, and hopefully the same fish found at the site 136 years ago.
Armed with backpack electrofishers, it took the team only a few hours to do what took Jordan and a group of students a week to accomplish. Fortunately, the area’s changes were not indicative of the conditions beneath the water.
The team documented 10 of the 16 species seen at the site 136 years ago, including all four species originally described from specimens collected at Flat Shoals. Eight species not captured by Jordan were also documented, including one unwanted invasive species. Read more here to find out exactly what they caught!