Biologist reports logo Monongahela River Lock Chamber

Fish Sampling
September 15-17, 2003

Three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock chambers on the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania were visited to sample fish the week of 9/15/03. A crew of about 20 biologists descended upon the location each day with boats, nets, measuring boards, and scales. All fish were collected from the chamber through the aid of fish sampling liquid. The species, numbers, lengths, and weights of all fish were then determined to be compared to previous years data. This has historically been a cooperative effort coordinated by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). This year the effort was related to documentation of changes that occurred in the fish populations over the last 35 years - since 1968. This data, along with night electrofishing data from Spring 2003, will be used to characterize the current fish populations in the Monongahela River. The reason for the study is to protect the resource from the potential of mine drainage entering the river from abandoned deep mines. Some of the fish sampled were also used for routine fish tissue analysis.

View of ORSANCO survey crew inside the Braddock lock chamber
View of ORSANCO survey crew inside the Braddock lock chamber

Sampling took place at Braddock on Monday 9/15, at Maxwell on Tuesday 9/16, and at Grays Landing 9/17. Since 1968, Braddock has been sampled 11 times, Maxwell 16 times, and this was the first sample at Grays Landing. The total number of species collected was over 20 at each site. The figure below depicts how the number of species collected at Maxwell has steadily increased since 1968. The total number and weight of fish sampled will not be available for comparison until a later date.

Graph depicting the number of species collected at Maxwell Lock, 1968-2003

Some interesting tidbits from the surveys:

Processing the catch at Braddock
Processing the catch at Braddock

Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson holding the 28-inch paddlefish sampled at Maxwell
Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson holding the 28-inch paddlefish sampled at Maxwell

Fisheries Technician Gary Smith with a striped bass/white bass hybrid from Maxwell
Fisheries Technician Gary Smith with a striped bass/white bass hybrid from Maxwell

25-inch freshwater drum
25-inch freshwater drum

-- Area 8


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