Could we borrow a moment of your time and a quart jar of fish?
Though we may not be your typical neighbor, stopping by to request a cup of sugar, we mean no harm. You see, gaining access to lakes is a peculiar business for us, since many are private with no public entrance. It puts us into a bit of a pickle. If we come knocking at your door, it is because your lake contains a population of stickleback that is unique and very interesting to us. It is likely one that has been monitored for 20+ years.
These fish (threespine stickleback) show immense variation from lake to lake, which is part of the reason why they fascinate us. So, we do apologize for the inconvenience, but it is impossible for us to go to the lake down the way for a sample instead, because the stickleback in the lake down the way are not the same as the stickleback in your lake.
We will only take a moment to set our traps, let them soak overnight, and quietly return tomorrow to pick them up. The traps do not hurt the fish; they allow for the fish to swim in and hold them live inside, preventing them from swimming out.
We have met many wonderful and generous people on our excursion around southern Alaska this year and in the past. While we are the ones lugging around fish-filled buckets, your contribution of graciously pointing us to your lake is significant, and we would not have fish-filled buckets to lug without you.
If you open your doors to find a group of swamp-stinking, rubber boot-wearing, minnow trap carrying individuals, a wave on to your lake is all we need and we will leave with a jar of fish and the utmost gratitude.
We now say so long, and thanks for all the fish.
We hope to see you next year.
From your 2013 Clark StickleCrew
John, Emma, Cynthia, Melissa, and Ryan
P.S. There are stickleback lovers from other universities in the lakes too, we can vouch for them if they show up with a quart jar as well.
P.P.S. If you have friends in the neighborhood, we would love for you to share our goal with them so if we end up on their doorstep one day, they won’t be so confused.
P.P.P.S. If you would like information or pictures from your lake, feel free to contact any one of us or fellow lab members (See tab above)!