Friday, July 13, 2007

Live Earthlings: Part Two: Attack Of The Water Bear

If you remember, yesterday our little river adventure paused for a chillin' out break in a clear sandy stretch of the Waccasassa ... little did we know, we were being stalked.

A water bear surfaces near our break spot, intent on finding prey.
An unsuspecting Jonathon cleans gravel from his shoes as the water bear approaches.

The attack of the water bear, when it came, was vicious, but Jonathon used the wet hair flail technique to distract and defeat the beast.

Silly, I know, but ya' gotta play. All eco-trash pickup and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

When the break ended, the boys returned to searching diligently for litter.

They really got into it.

Anybody sense a sense of accomplishment here?

"The haul of trash"

Here's the debris the boys cleaned from the Waccasassa.

A scared crawfish and a mad madtom catfish.

Back at the house, the wet and tired boys were excused from gear cleanup after they unloaded the canoes. They dashed to the showers and I began hosing off gear and sorting the trash they found.

Throughout the day, an assortment of crawfish had wiggled out of the bottles and cans that the boys had collected. When noticed, these little river denizens were flipped back into the river. A few crawfish and one small catfish made it back to the house. I met the catfish as I sorted the trash for the blue tarp litter layout picture.

As I reached to pick up the top of a beer bottle that had broken in transit, I felt a sharp pain in my middle finger. For about 5 seconds, I thought I had just stuck myself on the broken glass, but then an intense burning sensation began. It was painful enough that I actually looked in the bottle to make sure there wasn't a young water moccasin in there. Something had definitely got me and I needed to know what it was.

Instead of a snake, I found this little 5 inch long madtom catfish wiggling around in the broken remains of the beer bottle.

Arrrghhh! I've been stung by these little buggers before and they pack an amazing wallop for a fish that only reaches 6 inches in length.

(This one is now swimming in my 750 gallon aquaculture tank)

About 20 minutes later, just about the time required to put away the canoes and gear, the pain subsided and ebbed away. That was a long 20 minutes. I rate it just as bad as a larger saltwater catfish sting, but not even on the radar screen of pain compared to stingray sting.

(Yes, I have been stung alot, by a wide selection of stingers)

Just more proof that no good deed goes unpunished.


lori said...

I would like to say thanks to your boys for doing what appears to be quite a big job. they should be proud of them selfs! nice to know there are people out there that area still concerned about such thing. Please give them a big pat on the back for me.(i was going to say "big hug" but i'm not sure how they would take that)
Thanks again
lori in O.P.Fl.

lori said...

opps i forgot to say
thanks to you also. and watch out for those catfish. they can be sneaky!

thingfish23 said...

I see some old-school style cans in there, with the fully removable tab.

Those had been there a while, eh?

Sharon said...

Cute :) But please tell me you have never been bitten by a snake...and you said stingray, is that story in here somewhere?

roger said...

great job by all.

mmmmmmmmmm. catfish. i hear they're tasty sauteed in revenge sauce.

robin andrea said...

That was no way to end that very fine day. Glad that the stinging stopped after 20 minutes. I didn't know that catfish would bite like that, I'll definitely remember that info.

Floridacracker said...

I assume O.P. is Orange Park, so welcome to P.F.
Hey, they're boys ... hugs are generally welcome.
And yes, catfish are very, very sneaky!

Good eye!
Yes, there were some real can artifacts in the mix. None of the 100+ year old glass bottles I like tho.

Lots of snake bites, but never a poisonous snake bite. That's mainly because I have sense enough (I know, who would'a thought) not to handle the poisonous rascals.
The stingray sting is a story to come.

revenge sauce ...yes, and best served cold ...

It's not really a bite, but their dorsal and pectoral fins have a sharp spiny fin ray that is coated with poisonous mucous.
Not life threatening at all, but really, really painful.

Hurricane Teen said...

ha ha ha good story there. It's these kind of stories that make me feel like an extremely boring blogger. I'm glad you had a good time, though...And by the looks of those bottles, they could have been sitting in that river for 20+ years?

pissed off patricia said...

Great clean up job, guys. That's great!

When I was a kid I kicked a dead catfish on the beach. MISTAKE! The barb went deep into my foot and broke off. I have never felt such pain in all my life. I didn't know what had happened (didn't know about catfish barbs) My parents weren't with me when I did it so they didn't know why the hell I was crying and screaming.

scott said...

What, no old washing machines or freezers? You must not have been within miles of a highway bridge. Nobody trashes like Trash.

Rurality said...

Hubby got zapped by one of those saltwater catfish once. Luckily we were renting a beach house, and had brought the laptop. The internet told us to run hot water over it, and that took a lot of the sting out.

P.S. Your son seems to be a chip off the old block. :)

SophieMae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pablo said...

I've done some river clean up a time or two, and we always -- always -- find tires. How does this happen?

You're raising a fine family, FC.

SophieMae said...

I am, quite naturally, rather partial to saltwater fishing and there's not a lot more annoying than spending the day wrangling catfish off your hook. (That and taking citified relativs along and having to spend the day baiting their hooks.) Amazingly, I have managed to avoid being stabbed and am just as happy to take your word for the extent of that particular pain.

threecollie said...

What a haul...but those water bears look scary. I've never seen one this far north...seriously, you are doing something pretty special there and so are they. Good job!

Deb said...

It's good the guys had some fun while they were doing a good deed.

I haven't been stung by a madtom (yet), but I've had lots of small bullhead stings. They hurt bad enough.

Cathy said...

The admiration meter was already at tilt - then the sting from an unseen critter. Geeze.

Floridacracker said...

Yup, some of those bottles are older than you!
Nothing boring about the Mfactor.

I'm cringing just imagining that kick!

Back in '98 my students did a major cleanup of the bridge area and we did find some of those items.

Heat is the recommended immediate treatment. I carry heat packs in my field trip first aid kit with school kids.
He's a chip all right.

I agree, tires are omnipresent in rivers. I passed another one that was too deep. I only get credit for one of these fine boys of course, but thank you!

I love to fish period, but SW is my favorite too.
I once had a catfish flip off the hook and dance down my leg sticking me 5 times on his way back to the sea.
THAT was a fine day.

Thanks and I'm glad you are free of water bears.
I keep this one in captivity and the feed bill is outrageous.

The whole catfish clan is well protected. It's just such a shocker when a tiny fish like this pops you a good one.

The good news is neither the catfish nor I suffered any permanent damage.

Hurricane Teen said...

So I hear you may be shrimping in Fruit Cove this season? Let me know and I'll look for ya :-D

Babette said...

Hard work is good for young men, after all!

My young men are putting dinner on the table tonight by crabbing near the Hood Canal this morning. A daughter is an intern at Mt. Rainier National Park this summer, rebuilding bridges and paths after recent flood damage.

I saw your comment at Vicki's regarding the Pig War. Our family calls the beautiful San Juans the Pig War Islands. One of my sons did a research paper on this weird, but oddly important, battle and was fascinated by the daily journal of William Peck, Jr. (Soldier 1858-1862-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Perhaps they have it in your thoroughly modern library?

Stay cool.

Floridacracker said...

Will do!

Welcome! I was lucky enough to visit your neck of the woods once and wow,wow, wow. Beautiful.

I hope your crabby young men are successful and bring home the goods. Here, that would be blue crab, but I suppose there it might be dungeness crab?

The Pig War is one of those little historical oddities that sticks in my cluttered brain.
I'll look for that diary of William Peck.

ImagineMel said...

awww, those bears are pretty harmless...but they are a noisy, hungry pair. Thanks for giving him the opportunity. He pretty much thinks you are spectacular.

Floridacracker said...

He's a great kid and a good adventurer.