On Saturday FLOW partnered with HERO USA to do a kayak/canoe paddle on a 3.5 mile stretch of the Olentangy River. HERO USA is a fellow non-profit that was “formed to provide access to sports training and educational resources for children facing social, physical and economic obstacles” and they provide kayaks and canoes for our canoe floats. FLOW does a second Saturday float each month and this month it was a wildlife based float with a macro invertebrate display at the Kenny Park riffle and a fish shocking near the end of the river float.
The morning started by meeting at Northmoor Park which is where the float would end. After signing a waiver and picking up a life bus we all boarded a school bus and were bused up river to Broad Meadows Park where we would get in the river. For quite a few of us this was the first time on a school bus in a while. After a brief lesson on kayaking we were allowed in the river with our group.
The river had some shallow areas where it seemed like we were gliding through the waterway with only six inches of water beneath us. Other parts we got stuck and needed to be pushed through to make it over some large rocks or shallow areas.
The macro invertebrate stop was a hands on stop where we were given nets and could go and kick around some rocks in the river. The person with the net stands downstream and the person kicking is upstream. The kicking helps pick up macro invertebrates that are living on the river bottom. The net is then taken over to shore and you try to identify what was kicked up.
Several people were able to find crayfish, damselflies, various water worms and other bugs. Ohio EPA and water quality researchers can determine the quality of the water based upon what they find in the testing. A three tiered system is used which indicates that some tolerate poor water quality, good water quality, and excellent water quality. Also at this spot a freshwater mussel that was estimated to be more than 20 years old was found and put back into the river.
When we reached Northmoor Park we got out of the river and then walked to the river’s edge to see what fish the division of wildlife had shocked for us to see. In their shocking tank they had over 12 species of fish, including various species of carpsuckers, a few grass carp, smallmouth bass, and different varieties of sunfish. Carpsuckers look just like carp, except are native and have a mouth which is made for sucking insects off the bottom of the river.
This was a fun and education filled day, the more people that get on the river, the more they will appreciate its beauty and will care what happens to it.