A strong electric current went through the water Monday at the Tahoe Keys. Fish, feeling the shock, wiggled from their hiding places among the reeds and murk of the bottom. University of Nevada researcher Christine Ryan netted the fish from the bow of the electroshocker boat and dropped them in a tank.
“What we’re trying to do is find out if there’s a way we can control the population and make recommendations for how to manage invasive species,” Ryan said.
In anticipation of the upcoming Lake Tahoe Summit, research agencies are showing off their projects within the basin. Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute invited media personnel for a ride on their electroshocking boat Monday to highlight their work studying invasive species.
“The Summit makes people more aware of the research that’s going on at the lake,” Desert Research Institute spokesman Justin Broglio said.
The Lake Tahoe Summit will take place Aug. 19 at Sand Harbor State Park. Former Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to make the keynote speech. The event is heralded as a chance for Lake Tahoe scientists to get their work in front of policymakers.
“The Summit is when everybody comes to Lake Tahoe to talk about the science,” University of Nevada spokesman Mike Wolterbeek said.
On the electroshocker boat Monday, Ryan pulled dozens of invasive species such as smallmouth bass, blue gill and catfish and native species such as tui chub and redside shiner out of the murky Tahoe Keys water. The native species will be returned to the water, while the non-native species will be killed.
Using the electroshocking method, staffers have removed more than 30,000 invasive species from the lake since the program started three years ago. It’s just one piece of a larger project to study the invasive species of Lake Tahoe, Ryan said. UNR and DRI are also studying the lake’s invertebrate populations.
UNR researcher Annie Caires demonstrated a sampling technique, pulling several Asian clams from the bottom of the lake. The problem with the research they’re doing now is that they only have snapshots of data from the past to compare their results to, Caires said.
“What we hope for in the future is longer-term data so we know how the lake is changing,” Caires said. “What we would really like to see is a continuation of this data series.”
This is important because the same data that researchers at UNR and DRI are collecting informs those who make the policies that affect Lake Tahoe, Wolterbeek said. Wolterbeek is in the process of creating a packet for the attendees of the Summit that will summarize UNR’s projects and their impacts at Lake Tahoe, he added.
“When we have the senators and the governor here, we like to have a big packet of information to give them, so they can see what we’re doing and how it helps,” Wolterbeek said.