MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Two wildlife biologists from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources surveyed three sites aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany May 8.
Looking for rare aquatic species, the scientists collected samples and cataloged their findings from Indian Lake, Piney Woods Creek and the Marine Corps Canal.
The purpose of the survey was to determine if rare aquatic species exist on base.
According to Eddie Parramore, natural resource manager, Environment Branch, Installations and Environmental Division, MCLB Albany, the visit came about when the Army Corps of Engineers contracted Aerostar Environmental Services, Inc., to update MCLB Albany’s Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan.
The INRMP is a five year plan that guides the natural resources management program at the MCLB Albany and provides a solid foundation from which to build the program.
The goals of this INRMP are to ensure the long-term sustainability of the lands to support the military mission; to conserve and protect the natural resources; to protect the cultural resources and to accommodate multiple uses of the land.
“Aerostar recently asked the Georgia Department of Natural Resources about sampling for aquatic species on base,” Parramore said. “To the best of my knowledge, the base has not been comprehensively surveyed.”
According to Brett Albanese, wildlife biologist, Nongame Conservation Section, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, he had heard that MCLB Albany had some interesting aquatic habitats. While planning to conduct other surveys in southwest Georgia, he and his partner, Deborah Weiler, program worker, Nongame Conservation Section, were able to schedule a visit to survey the base.
The biologists used dipnets and seines to collect fish from the densely vegetated wetlands on base.
During their visit at Indian Lake, they found many interesting fish to include a juvenile gar, swamp darters, juvenile crappie and the banded pygmy sunfish (Elassoma zonatum).
“This tiny species, where the adults grow to about an inch long, thrives in places like Indian Lake,” Albanese said. “It is strongly associated with aquatic plants where males, during the breeding season, guard territories around these plants.”
In Piney Woods Creek, the biologists found golden shiners, yellow bullhead catfish, chain pickerel, mosquitofish, flier, redbreast sunfish, and bluegill sunfish.
The warm water in the drainage ditch exiting MCLB yielded only mosquitofish. These fish are very tolerant of the degraded conditions typically found in ditches.
“A large amount of filamentous algae in the ditch suggests that its absorbing excess nutrients from the local watershed,” Albanese said. “While the ditch is an unnatural habitat, it is still important to protect its water quality because it feeds into the Flint River.”
Albanese was hoping to find the bluenose shiner, a minnow species that only grows up to a couple inches long, which can be found in only nine locations throughout the state.
“Unfortunately, we did not find any rare species, to include the rare bluenose shiner, during our visit,” Albanese said.
“I think the base has some exceptional aquatic habitats,” Albanese said. “The upper Piney Woods Creek may dry up during droughts, but it provides seasonal habitats for many fish species. Indian Lake is great example of a Cypress pond wetland and I hope base residents are taking advantage of the great wildlife viewing opportunities there.”
Information about rare species by watershed can be found at www.georgiawildlife.com Follow links to “Nongame Animals & Plants,” “Georgia Rare Species and Natural Community Information,” and “HUC8 Watershed Rare Element.”
For more information about aquatic species on base, contact Parramore at 639-6261.