The Answer, a Bit Later Than Intended

Perhaps you recall the quiz that wrapped the January 14 post?

flooded bridgeHere’s a little quiz for you: Your eyes and nose present clues that can help you determine cause and effect. We all know that. When you study the photo above of the flooded foot bridge (click for an enlargement) you can see different kinds of plants, trees, and even water. See the stacked foam along the bridge? What does an accumulation of six inches or more of foam along a water body’s edge indicate?”

Thanks to Daryl Bridenbaugh who pointed out that the answer was not forthcoming the following day as noted in the original post, here’s the rest of the story:

A) Too many toad eggs to count

B) Everyone in the tri-county area did laundry today

C) Something smells fishy!

ANSWER: Both B and C. The foam build up on this particular day was piled up above six inches on the bridge and stream bank and did not break apart easily. It smelled musty…kind of like laundry that been left out on a rainy day. However, there was patchy foam floating in the current.

Some of this foam is caused by naturally occurring dissolved organic compounds. Foam that doesn’t build up very high and that breaks apart easily. This kind of foam sometimes smells fishy.

The day-old-wash stuff may be a different story. It can be a sign of human activity, including detergents and excess nutrients that can increase algae growth, more suspended solids and lower dissolved oxygen for the fish, insects and everything else that makes its living in the aquatic food chain.

Sometimes you don’t need a chemical test kit to get an idea what’s flowing downstream. Just use your eyes, ears and nose. If they tell you something’s fishy (and not in a good way), then it’s time to take a closer look for the source.

For more detailed reading, visit http://www.umaine.edu/WaterResearch/FieldGuide/onthewater.htm.

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