Sunday, June 23, 2013

Love That Orange Water

I have snorkeled Stony Run before, but upstream from here. I have always been amazed by this small creek. Its watershed was recently almost all forested but the steam still stays clear in spite of encroaching suburbanization. It’s a stream that gives me hope that maybe we have learned how to manage the balance between development and open space. Maybe progress can occur without destroying water quality. A white fine sand beach frames a deep pool at the foot of a riffle. This spot is wedged between the major North East corridor transportation routes: Amtrak to the south, Routes 7, and 40 to the north. This half mile stretch is just barely out of sight of route 7 and is just beneath the NE corridor tracks. I certainly didn’t expect to see the abundance and diversity I experienced today, given the location. Stony Runs water has an orange tinge due to tannins that leach from decaying vegetation in the wet woods and wetlands that form a lot of the Stony Run drainage so from the surface it seems like visibility will be poor. But as usual, as soon as I break the reflective plane, a whole new world is revealed. A small mouth bass comes up from the bottom of the hole to investigate. Common shiners nibble on me as I try to get closer to the bass. Hogsuckers head for deeper water from a shallow cobble riffle. Juvenile sunnies hover over a sandy part of the bottom and log perch hop away as I try to grab a picture. Darters wedge between rocks. Some kind of minnow I still need to identify feed over a gravel flat. With this diversity and abundance, this spot might just become my new favorite place to snorkel. It’s the unexpected that keeps me in the water. I never know what I am going to see, and there are so many rivers and reaches of rivers to explore. I will never be able to see them all. This little stretch of orange water reinforces that.

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