Massachusetts Audubon investigate...
Finds in our Fish Traps!
- Salt water leeches in Essex!
- Numerous leeches (both brown and green) were found on Mummichogs
caught in Essex, near Conomo Point Road. The salinity of the
water was high at the time: 30 ppt! Leeches on mummichogs have
been found at two different occasions at this site. We're surprised
because we didn't expect them in salty water. If you find leeches
on mummichogs (or on other organisms) let me know!
Rodents in Newburyport!
- On two different occasions we have found rodents inside the
fish traps at Joppa Flats in Newburyport. One was found upstream,
and one was found downstream. Both were no longer alive when
we found them. We did not identify what kind of rodent they
- Tons of 9 Spined Sticklebacks in Revere!
- The samplers in Revere were out all winter long in tough conditions.
They found some interesting results. In January 9 spined stickleback
populations began to grow and in February, they had way more
9 spined sticklebacks than mummichogs. Check out more of their
graphs on the fish data page.
the Salt Marsh:
of Mummichogs Murdered!
Massachusetts Audubon scientists received
a shock when they pulled a fish trap out of a salt marsh in Rowley.
Expecting to find healthy, hardy fish, they found a mass of murdered
mummichogs instead! Only a few live fish survived.
Observers noticed that many of the dead fish had pieces of flesh
missing that were roughly the size of a dime. The fish were not
bleeding. Other dead fish showed no missing flesh. No species other
than mummichogs were inside the fish trap at the time it was found.
The death of these fish baffled Massachusetts Audubon Scientist
Robert Buchsbaum. He was mystified about what happened in the trap
because mummichogs are typically very hardy.
"Mummichogs abound in the tidal creeks that cut through the
salt marshes. They are so resistant to a lack of oxygen, the presence
of carbon dioxide, and unfavorable surroundings generally that they
can survive in very foul water," according to Dr. Buchsbaum.
"Do they eat each other?" asked a curious bystander. This
question was promptly tested as a dead mummichog was placed in a
small bin with some live ones. The live fish showed no interest
in the dead mummichog.
Pine Grove students are investigating the case further, and would
like your assistance in deciding who murdered the mummichogs. If
you have ideas, evidence, or further information, please send it
To help you investigate the following list of suspects, seventh
grade students from the Rupert A. Nock Middle School in Newburyport,
MA, have submitted the following pages from their Field Guide
to the Merrimac River. Click on the suspects below to view
pictures and drag down to read information about each one.
If you think you've solved the mystery or if you have an environmental
mystery that other schools could help you investigate, please send
information to: email@example.com.