Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Part I, Day 7: 080615

We started today with a stop on Doctors Lake, a major bay on the west of the St Johns river. This was a somewhat confusing stop. There was a ditch leading down to the water, which contained some lovely beetles and snails, along with a vast population of tadpoles. Matt is not interested in such things, so he headed down to the lake proper while I picked beetles and snails. In the nearby bathroom, a dead amphipod (probably Gammarus sp.) was sitting on top of the toilet paper dispenser. Matt and I found no live amphipods in the lake itself.

Doctors Lake. Not pictured: amphipods, or their normal place of residence.

Travelling South and West, inland, from Jacksonville, we encountered Little Black Creek under a bridge. We found some lovely critters, including some alarmingly large snails, but I lost a pair of forceps in the muck under the lily pads. I searched for about 10 minutes, and filled my boots with water in the process, but I did not find it. *sigh*. Still, a productive and useful collecting site.

Little Black Creek. Not pictured: my lost forceps.

Moving on, I bought some replacements (though none can replace the forceps-shaped hole in my heart) from a drugstore, and we found a few more collecting sites. We left one site, the redundantly-named Lochloosa Lake, as a storm roared across the lake towards us. Watching the fishing boats scramble up the boat ramp was mildly amusing, as the wind suddenly rose and the lightning crashed down onto the far shore. At another little boat ramp, the mud around the boat ramp was very soft and very deep; I nearly lost both boots, first the left, then the right.

Our final site of the day had a tremendous abundance, a truly stunning cornucopia, of amphipods. A single sweep of the net through the floating vegetation yeilded several hundred amphipods, as well as many snails of several species. I also picked up some beetles and few other critters, too. The $5.00 fee to access the park was well worth it.

Matt collecting amphipods at Silver Springs, where they are so abundant a stick pushed through the algae will pick up at least one or two.

Tired but happy, we cruised West, past giant Lake George. We found a motel a little ways North of Orlando, and called it a good day.

Tomorrow we’ll head to our southernmost collecting site: Lake Okeechobee.

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