Wah-Tut-Ca Magazine February 2014 - Page 13

Something Fishy Discovery of Fish Habitat In The Gulf Brook It is a headwater stream that runs beneath the cliffs. It may have once been a river that time has reduced to a stream. It ?ows northward- in the opposite direction that the glaciers took 10,000 years ago. It is full of mystery waiting to be discovered. It holds the natural historical evidence of how the land of Wah-Tut-Ca was created. The Gulf Brook is one of several streams of water that run through Wah-Tut-Ca. All are ecologically signi?cant but this stream has the greatest diversity of life. On one end are beaver dams that capture the water to create habit for this important and historical macro-vertebrate. The other end leads to Northwood Lake. In between lives a wide range of different plants and animals. Wah-Tut-Ca’s area of the Gulf is protected by the USDA Measuring Brook Trout From Gulf Wetlands easement. Since 2009 it has been federally recognized as an important area of land in southern New Hampshire. Because of the rough and wet landscape this area of land has had minimal human intervention. This year discoveries in the Gulf Brook have proven that it is even more signi?cant than was previously thought. It is home to at least four species of ?sh. No one connected to the ecology of WTCSR was aware that ?sh could live there. Although there was some suspicion. In the spring of 2008 some yellow perch were found in the brook near the outlet to the lake. It was assumed that these ?sh had traveled the short distance upstream to spawn. It was never considered that ?sh would travel further. The stream is not very deep and parts of it have been known to dry up during periods of drought. Yet ?nding the Yellow Perch did open the question. In the spring of 2013 the question of if the Gulf Brook was capable of supporting ?sh was answered. The USDA and the New Hampshire Fish and Game visited the brook to determine if ?sh were living in the stream. Using a method called electro?shing they discovered three species of ?sh as well as nests. Yellow perch (Perca ?avescens) was discovered further upstream than the previous ?nd. Yellow perch is only found in North America. In the United States, the native range extends south into Ohio, Illinois, and throughout the majority of the northeastern United States. Finding these ?sh con?rmed the earlier ?nd. Yet these ?sh spawn in the shallow part of the lake and in the streams. They don’t necessarily live their lives in the stream and are found in Northwood Lake. The second species identi?ed was the Fall?sh, (Semotilus corporalis). This is a freshwater ?sh, a chub in the family Cyprinidae. It is found in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, where it inhabits streams, rivers, and lake margins. This ?sh also inhabits of emergent marsh of Northwood Lake so ?nding it in the stream does not con?rm that the Gulf Brook is more than temporary habitat. The third species discover was Brook Trout, (Salvelinus fontinalis), sometimes called Brook the eastern brook trout, is a species of ?sh in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. Not only were several brook trout caught but also discovered were breeding nests called redds. The signi?cance of ?nding the Brook Trout is that this species of ?sh does not live in the lake concluding that the gulf brook is year-round habitat for ?sh. Later that summer Scouts participating in Biosphere Extreme wanted to determine how far away from the lake did the gulf brook provide ?sh habitat. The spring study only went half way up the stream between the lake and the Grif?n/Gulf Road. Using underwater ?sh cameras and basket traps the team extended the examination. Just off the Gulf road the team captured two ?sh of what turned out to be a rare species. A 4th ?sh, the Banded Sun?sh, (Enneacanthus obesus) was identi?ed. This ?sh is a freshwater ?sh of the family, Centrarchidae. It is the smallest of sun?sh and they can grow as an adult to become 2-3 inches long. This ?sh is endangered in many parts of the country. Finding these not only con?rmed that the Gulf Brook is habitat for multiple species of ?sh it also con?rms that Wah-Tut-Ca is home to many rare species. Further work will be done in the years ahead to examine ?sh and aquatic life in the Gulf Brook. To date only half the stream has been investigated. This spring the search goes on.