It’s just a little thing and really doesn’t look like much from the road. The creek is only 5 feet wide and the shallow 6 inch deep runs of riffles are interspersed with 1-2 foot deep pools. But the water is clear and the gravel is clean. I wasn’t sure what we would see, but we didn’t have many other options. It has been a wet early summer and our eastern rivers are muddy for the most part. Mill Creek was one of the few exceptions.
“I’m not sure what we are going to see today.” I told the group of teacher who were joining us to learn how to engage their students in stream science through snorkeling.
“But then I never really know what I am going to see when I snorkel any stream. That’s one of the beauties of it.”
Clear water reveals lots of fish once I submerge beneath the reflective surface. Rosy sided dace compete for a mate. Common shiner feed in the water column. The colors of these fish always impress me, and for a minute I forget I am in a temperate stream. It looks more tropical. Something hopped from one spot to another on the bottom. I looked down to see a sculpin mashed around a smooth round cobble by the current. It let me get a few pictures, then decided I was too close and in an instant, disappeared into the background. I slowly crawled upstream and saw another. A thin tail stuck up from the pebbly bottom and as I suspected, an elver appeared from the other end of a larger rock. Another sculpin shot off and settled against a round stone. Darters darted and a large sunny challenged me from under woody cover in a deeper hole.
It was satisfying to hear comments like “I never knew this creek was here.” and “I would have never thought to snorkel here.” That’s the whole point. It’s amazing what lives in even our most forgotten streams. All we need to do is reveal it by snorkeling