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November 16th 2021
TREC now has a website, as well as our facebook page and an Instagram feed. The new website can be found at troutriverec.ca and one of the features is that it shows our latest facebook posts, very useful for people who do not subscribe to facebook but want to keep up on our news. Please bear with us as we continue to add content to the website, it is fairly bare-bones right now.
 
 

One of the wells that we are monitoring for bat activity
 
TREC has been busy this year collecting bat data. We did five stationary surveys, two mobile surveys, two Fall monitoring sites, and helped with a colony count. The colony count recorded an incredible 180 bats and, after initial analysis of the stationary survey data, it appears that we may have five bat species in our region including the Eastern Red Bat – which is exciting because we didn’t even know it was on PEI until recently. Our region appears to be a hot-spot for bats, and we are looking forward to moving from detecting bats to protecting bats. When all the data has been analyzed, we will be able to target our bat protection efforts in areas where the bats are already living. Hopefully the abandoned wells that we have protected from being infilled will become winter hibernation sites, we will be putting temperature and humidity monitors down them soon in order to see if they are suitable sites for bat hibernation.
 
 


The sign at Millvale Pond asking boaters to clean their equipment

We recently installed ‘Clean Drain Dry’ signs at our two ponds. The signs, provided by the Invasive Species Council and funded by the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Province, encourage boaters to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species between freshwater bodies. The signs ask pond users to clean their craft of mud and plants and animals, drain the water, and dry the craft, trailer, and gear. Invasive species can (and do) cause immense damage to natural ecosystems and to commercial fishers and the aquaculture industry. Invasive species are defined as being non-native, often with aggressive growth tendencies, and they out-compete native species, and they don’t fit into the native ecosystem. TREC tackles invasive plants each summer such as Japanese Knotweed, Wild Cucumber, and Bittersweet Nightshade. We are building a map and an invasive species management plan to tackle these damaging plants.
 
 

Some large (15 inch) brook trout in Hope River

We have just started doing redd surveys in our streams. We will be looking for trout redds, which are areas where the female trout have laid their eggs. We will avoid doing stream restoration work in areas with a high number of redds, because we don’t want to alter the nature of the stream where it is already working well for the fish. Taylor Sheidow from the Province is helping us with our surveys, and in future years this will be an annual event – hopefully extending to more rivers.

There is not much left to do outside this year, and we will soon be putting our (t)rusty truck away for the winter. Hopefully we can run a Winter Woodlot Tour this coming February, and we will let you know as soon as we have more information.

 

TREC Team 2021

So a great summer work season has come to an end for the TREC team. Looking back, the team has successfully completed a lot of our goals and learned so much new information to help make future projects come to life. TREC has accomplished a lot of river maintenance and monitoring work, removing blockages and keeping an eye on the general quality and temperature of the rivers and corresponding tributaries in the watershed. Creation and maintenance of trails at the Devil’s Punchbowl and at Trout River Park has also been added to the mix; make sure to stop by and visit them. This year the team was lucky enough to be very closely involved with wildlife, participating in bat monitoring, as well as Canada goose and bald eagle banding. In addition, TREC did some electrofishing in Hope River, Founds Mill River, and Granville Creek. The team was assisted by members of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Matt and Taylor Sheidow and Danielle Jordan.

Electrofishing gave us insight into the issue of gill lice, which can be observed on fish quite clearly. Despite their name, gill lice are not at all lice but actually fall under the classification of copepods (a type of small crustaceans). These copepods can exist in a range of forms, eg. planktonic, benthic, and others being parasitic (being the gill lice/maggots). The genus of gill louse that affects our salmonid species is Salmincola spp. The male fish lice are small, short-lived (about a week) and do not attach to the actual fish, whereas the females can reach ¼ inch at maturity and can live up to a year or more.Parasitic copepods of the genus Salmincola are most often found attached to gill filaments, opercula (gill covers), tissues within the mouth cavity, and fins of salmonid fishes. The parasites feed on blood and epithelial tissues of their hosts. Salmincola species are restricted largely to freshwater but may survive on salmonids while at sea.
 

Gill Lice life cycle

The adult female copepods are larger than the males and attach permanently to the fish host with a modified mouth part known as a bulla that is inserted into the host tissues. Host damage by parasitic copepods depends on the location of the attachment site, the species of parasite, and the size and type of bulla. Gill attachment by Salmincola can damage delicate epidermal tissues resulting in necrosis and loss of surface area for respiration. Attachment may also provide portals of entry for secondary invaders such as bacteria and fungi.
 

Lice attached to fish gills

Salmincola have a direct, but complicated life cycle. Females produce two clusters of eggs twice during a 3-month life span. Eggs hatch into a larval form that can survive free-swimming for several days. The larvae attach to gills or fins of a fish host and molt into 4 successive larval stages and degenerate into grub-like parasites. Males then detach and copulate with the females, after which the males die. Females molt into the adult stage and produce two pairs of egg clusters. The female Salmincola dies shortly after the second group of eggs hatch. Prognosis for the host is good when infestations are not severe and damage to gill tissue is minimal. Generally, infestations with this parasite do not cause significant fish mortality.

While we were electrofishing, we were able to help collect lice from fish and thus provide useful information on the prevalence of gill lice in our streams to a national project that is studying these damaging pests.
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