Sunday 16 February 2014

Surprise In The Pond

    Yesterday, Skye and I did one of our short walks around the pond.  The pond, of course, is covered with ice probably 12 inches (30cm) thick or more, and on top of the ice is another foot or so of snow.  However, at the near end of the pond is a small pool of open water, because that is where the overflow from our gravity-fed water system comes in, preventing it from icing over.
    Usually on my walk, I look into the small area of open water, hoping to see some of the little shiners--small minnow sized fish.  I did this yesterday.  As I stared into the liquid world, looking for the little fish, I could see none, then I noticed movement, and then was amazed when I realized I was seeing a great big fish, slowly circling in the water.  I estimate it was about 16 inches (40 cm) from nose to tail.  I was gobsmacked.
    About 20 years ago, a co-worker from Forestry had been fishing in a creek, down the road, and stopped in and gave me about 5 fish for the pond.  Three of them were white fish, which are bottom feeders, and the other two were trout, all about a foot, (30cm) in length.
   Over the passing years, I have never see any fish jump, or do anything to make me notice them, so I assumed they probably all died.  Then one autumn day 8 years ago, I noticed something floating on the edge of the pond, and pulled out the corpse of a 22 inch (55cm) white fish, that I guess died of old age.  That was a surprise, since I didn’t really think there were any big fish left in my pond.  Again, as the years passed, I figured there were no more large fish in the pond--until yesterday.
    Since this fish was hanging around where the water comes in, I think it was probably getting a blast of that oxygen rich water, that we take off of a waterfall for our drinking water.  Ice covered ponds can become devoid of oxygen due to the ice cover that limits surface air exchange, and the decomposition of plant material.

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