The Final Days in British Columbia

 

A belated post this might be, but I felt it necessary to share with our readers the last days of the 2010 expedition to the north.

After a week in Alaska, the strangest thing about British Columbia was that the sun actually set. Granted, it set fairly late, around 9:00 PM, but there was still definite night and day.
For the end of our trip to British Columbia, Team Animal Behavior was on the BC mainland. Instead of a motel, we stayed with one of Susan’s old friends, Norma, a sweet lady who had a great many stories to tell and who is very used to stickleback research.
(It seems that everyone up north is. We would be working at lakes and people would drive by us and ask “Are you the stickle folks?”)

Our primary goal on the mainland was to investigate Hotel Lake. Lily and gang had scouted it out earlier in the summer to try and find courting and parental males, but the lake was empty then.Unfortunately, when Dianne, Lily and I explored the lake, we had similar bad luck. There were fry everywhere, clouds and clouds of them, but very few adults, and even fewer breeding ones.We tried twice, and laid out traps, all met with minimal success.

A view of Hotel Lake from the shore. Stickleback fry congregated near the shorelines

A view of Hotel Lake from the shore. Stickleback fry congregated near the shorelines

Another day saw us trekking to the well-hidden Ambrose Lake. To get there, we had to drive up rocky trails and hike through thick forests and over muddy ground. The lake, however, was beautiful, and there were plenty of parental stickleback.

Hotel Lake

Hotel Lake

The parental fish in this lake were very brightly colored. Even the females, usually drab or silvery, were shades of bright gold and copper. Unfortunately, if the captured fish spent about twenty minutes in a bucket, they lost their coloration. Our collection, then, looked less impressive when preserved then they did in the water.

A courting male in Ambrose Lake.

A courting male in Ambrose Lake.

Our last day was spent preserving all the stickleback we’d caught so they could be shipped back to Massachusetts. Working with that many dead fish and that much formaline is unpleasant, but with three of us working on it, the job didn’t last long.

The trip back to the east coast required a long car drive back to Seattle and early flights. And then, we were all back in Worcester, where there were dishes upon dishes of stickleback eggs that needed attending to and fry that needed feeding.

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