Friday, April 6, 2012

Darter Falls

There are hundreds of darters at Principio falls. The darters have been here for a few weeks, and I figured they were congregating to mate, but they are just now starting to display breeding behavior. Males are in breeding color, and fan their fins to attract a mate, advertising they are the most fit based on their dorsal fin. Maybe size does matter. Either way watching the males display and females respond is entertaining.

They are even in the falls themselves, right at the fall line where the Principio tumbles 30 feet over bedrock. I am always amazed at how such a dainty looking fish like a darter can hang on in such intense conditions. I hop from waterfall pool to waterfall pool, and come upon a three foot fissure. There were darters there, of course.

A large fish floats under me as I admire the darters ability to wriggle into cracks and flatten to the bedrock to hold in this mid waterfall pool. As much as I didn’t expect few inch long darters to be here they weren’t a shock Foot long river chubs were. The first one took off when it realized it just drifted under something much larger. I followed the fissure, barely a foot wide for a few feet and found the rest of the river chub school. I couldn’t believe that this many large, perceived to be lumbering fish could make a living in the intense currents of a waterfall. I really expected this pool to be devoid of life simply because of intense physical conditions. Consistent strong currents, heavy scouring flows with almost every runoff producing rain, and not many places to hide due to the smoothed bedrock nature of the bottom aren’t very conducive for fish to survive. And yet there was an entire community living in this mid waterfall pool.

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