Monday, March 31, 2014

Checking Sculpin

There is a rock in the middle of a rapid I snorkel frequently. Eggs appear on the lee face of this rock this time every year. I’m really not sure what kind of egg they are. I think they might be sculpin, but that is just a guess. The eggs covered it last year on this date and I got into the water today to see if the fish responsible returned, in spite of prolonged winter conditions. I have never seen the fish that lays them, and I have never seen them hatch. I just know that they appear in the lee of this rock right about now, and they are gone by mid May. They are one of the mysteries snorkeling this river has revealed. I would have never known they existed had I stayed topside. I hope this year provides answers to some of the questions these eggs generate. Who lays them? When? Does every large rock in fast moving water get their lee faces covered in eggs or is there something special about this one. Is one fish or many responsible for all these eggs? They always just seem to appear. Green fur covers the rocks and caddis graze it. The stream is moving steadily towards spring and I hope to see a sure sign that seasons are turning: eggs on the back of the rock. The current pulls at my mask before I make it into the large eddy and drift upstream to the back of the rock. There are no eggs. I wonder if the eggs will appear this year. They always inspire so much joy. Eggs mean the procreation of the species, whatever species it is. They mean one more generation, one more year that will likely see these fish fill the river. Sculpin are abundant around here, though I have never seen any in this particular rapid, and I’m not convinced a sculpin lays these eggs each year. Whatever fish it is I hope they come back again this year. The unknown identity illustrates the discovery that accompanies snorkeling in our local rivers and streams. Deer creek is 5 minutes from home and is beautiful but mundane by most standards. And yet these kinds of mysteries lie just below the surface. There weren’t any eggs today. But that just adds to my anticipation of spring and the cascade of events that signal the re-eruption of life.

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