There is often great mystery within the general public of what fish researchers actually do out in the field. People see these staff out on the river or lake and readily seek them out for a chat. During the life of the NFS, there were many events when fish researchers demonstrated fish survey techniques and explained how equipment is used.
In particular, the general public are often fascinated to hear all about electrofishing. This was a great opportunity to answer frequently asked questions such as “Does electrofishing kill the fish?’. People are amazed to hear how the electric current temporarily stuns the fish, enabling them to be counted, measured, weighed and even tagged before being returned to the water.
Fish researchers often hear…”I wish I had your job – it must be the best job in the world!”. Many an angler would also state that catching a fish with an electrofisher was cheating!
Audiences were also fascinated by how technology can be used to track fish movements Fish researchers were able to show people the variety of radio and acoustic transmitters and PIT (passive inductor transponder) tags that are available to track fish, and explain how data can be collected and interpreted. People can always relate to their dog or cat being microchiped, but are often amazed to then find out how a fish can be tagged in the same way.
Similarly, demonstrating how a fish lift operates is also powerful. People may often wander past a large barrier such as a dam, never imagining that the unusual concrete construction alongside it represents a fishway. Hearing of the experiences of those who manage the fishways really opens peoples’ eyes! Demonstrating how PIT tag readers can be incorporated into fishways to enable effective monitoring of fish movement also impresses an audience.
During events which focused on fishways, presentations often included viewing the fishway video, which was a highly effective educational tool.