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Citizen Scientists

by | Oct 30, 2019 | Community, Family | 0 comments

A short while ago, Augie and I were invited out on the river to assist Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer with his bi-weekly water sampling for ShoreRivers. We had been invited by Good Friend Darran, who works at ShoreRivers and is always so good about connecting people with cool experiences.

Tim shows Augie where we are and where we’re headed. Darran has pretzels in her bag but doesn’t tell anyone until much later, when things get desperate.

We set out with the sun at our backs, the wind in our sails, the salt in the air, all those things that people who frequent boats say when they set out.

Tim has been navigating riverwaters since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. We are in the best of good hands.

Good Friend Darran took some time to explain to us what exactly we were doing (always a plus!). She whipped out some pamphlets, pointed to some numbers, showed us that (ahem) the Chester River most recently earned a C grade on its report card. Slacker!

Our C grade goes to show how important the Riverkeeper’s job is. With organizations like ShoreRivers monitoring river health, we can best figure out how and where improvements need to be made.

First step at our first stop was to drop a thingamajig down into the water while Tim looked at the thingamabob and wrote down some numbers measuring suchandsuch.

Good Friend Darran helped steady the thingamajig while I leaned dangerously off the edge of the boat to get you this great photo.

This test required Augie to pull up the thingamajig in one meter increments while Tim took down the numbers.

I vaguely remember something about salinity, maybe, and temperature, perhaps?

Next, Augie had to prepare our sample vessel by labeling it with the location we were getting the sample from. “CH” stands for “Chester” here, as in the river we are on, and NOTConfoederatio Helvetica,” which apparently is an abbreviation for Switzerland. This might, in fact, be the first time in history that anything on the Eastern Shore has ever been confused with anything in Switzerland. We’re making history here, folks!

I believe we were at site 6 at the time.

We then scooped up a sample of the water in a very sophisticated contraption held together by two different kinds of tape.

The whatzamafugg

Tim sucked up the water in a syringe and then squirted it back out through a filter.

The filter was then very carefully wrapped up in a high tech light-fast space substrate where it would be kept safe while being shipped elsewhere for testing.

Also known as tin foil.

The next thing that needed to be done was to test water clarity with another complicated instrument at the end of a string.

The stripeamabop

Here’s how it works: you drop it down into the water until you can’t see it anymore.

For some reason, I thought with a word like “clarity” we’d have a more sophisticated gizmo.

Did I mention there was someone else joining us on this fair vogage? I did not. I only just now noticed that I had taken a photo of her too. Here she is: Isabel Hardesty, former Riverkeeper, now deputy director of ShoreRivers.

Isabel sits with some floaty green stuff we found, which turns out is GREAT and is basically what is going to change our C grade to an A grade one of these days.
Huzzah for the powers of floaty green stuff!
*does not transfer to other report cards

Special editor’s note: Isabel Hardesty is not to be confused with Isabelle Hardesty, writer of Jade’s Paradox, who was not on this trip, sorry fangirls.

We collected samples up the river all the way to the Crumpton bridge, where I was briefly allowed to try out the thingamajig, stripamabop and squeezamajeez.

Augie felt so great about being a citizen scientist that we shared a brief hug.

Augie’s always up for a hug.

We filed away all of our samples, notes, thingamajigs, etc, and headed back south towards Chestertown. We attempted a brief stop at Duck Neck to get an ice cream refreshment, but the shop was closed, and so we wept. Good Friend Darran saved the day by whipping out some pretzels from her Mary Poppins bag and good spirits were restored.

What an awesome afternoon on the river learning about ecology, our environment and stewardship… we are so lucky to have ShoreRivers and countless dedicated heroes working to make our corner of the world a better place. [heart emojis, strong arm emojis, rippling water emojis]

Now here’s a heroic photo of Tim in his boat.

(Isabel hit the deck for this shot so that Tim could have his moment in the sun)





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