Thoughts on a Bio-blitz and More

Batting on the Maple River

Dusk hangs overhead as we diligently suspend mist nets over the Maple River.  “Make sure you don’t tangle them,” Tanya, an assistant researcher from the University of Michigan directs. “The bats will eat through my nets if they get too stuck.”  Carefully unfolding the black webbing from the plastic Kroger bags, we sling them over giant metal poles positioned along the river’s edge.

We are knee high in river muck and mosquito bites, grinning awkwardly at each other but shameless with enthusiasm.  We are, after all, student amateurs, and hope the expertise of Tanya and fellow researchers will prevent the flying beasts from noticing our clumsy construction.

Waiting in the bush nearby, we guard the nets as the sun sinks hazily into overhead trees.

One, two, three hours pass and our hopeful anticipation gives way to mindless inactivity.  The other students and I take turns spraying each other with DEET and warding off pesky night critters.  The researchers scribble neatly on their clipboards.

At about 1am, tired and unsuccessful, the researchers decide its time to head back to camp.  About to take down one of the nets, we notice something struggling in the lower left corner.  Tanya plucks a small, brown bat from the web of string.  Only three inches in length, it crawls onto her hand and sleepily hangs from one of her fingers, cloaked in its wings.  “So you finally decided to show,” she chuckles.  We students poke at it ecstatically and scribble notes into our journals.

As she hurls it into the air, we watch as the creature unveils itself to the night and disappears into a sky of twinkling fireflies.

By Eryn Duffield

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    What a treat to know the Biological Station is still alive and well. My father, David S. Shetter, B.S. Biology 1932, M.S. 1933, Ph.D. Zoology, 1937, enjoyed many summers there and until recently we had a scrapbook showing the activities and the friends he met there. Unfortunately, the storage space in Florida retirement homes dictates that some things have to be cleaned out. Wish I had known where to send it. This was definitely a seminal experience for a city guy from Cleveland. He loved everthing and had a hard time deciding what to do for his advanced degrees – ichthyology, entymology or herpetology.

    Dad subsequently went on to become the director of the Hunt Creek Fisheries Experiment Station in Lewiston from 1943 until his death in 1969. This is now under DNR management. My brother and I grew up at the “Lab”. A wonderful place to learn about the out of doors – many students and scholars coming and going. All summer there were folks camped out on the property observing or collecting. We learned VERY early not to disturb anyone or anything in jars, nets or collecting trays.

    There were no data bases established for many things we take for granted today. Hunt Creek has one of the longest data bases in existence for a freshwater trout stream. I certainly hope the current budget crises does not put that in jeopardy.

    Call Andy Nuhfer, the current director and have him show you the scrapbook I did on the history of Hunt Creek last year. I think you could do a good article on that and what the Lovells Historical Society is doing for the fishing lodges on the North Branch and the Main Stream. All of this was tied together in the beginning.

    Keep up the good work!


    Alice Shetter Hoelzer-Hawthorne
    3808 Doune Way
    Clermont, FL 34711