Home > News Bytes > DRBC Staff Teach the Bug-Water Quality Connection at Youth Fishing Derby
DRBC Staff Teach the Bug-Water Quality Connection at Youth Fishing Derby

What do fish need and therefore what do you need to fish? Clean water, of course! Collecting and studying macroinvertebrates (aquatic bugs) is one way scientists monitor how clean a waterway is.

Recently, DRBC staff explained this connection at the City of Trenton's Youth Fishing Derby, which was hosted in partnership with the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, at Stacy Park in Trenton, N.J. In addition to the fishing competition, the event included interactive education stations set up in the park for derby participants and their families to visit and learn about water quality, aquatic life, and how they too can be good stewards of the environment.

DRBC's education station focused on water quality. Staff collected macroinvertebrates from the Delaware River and displayed them in trays of water. Using identification keys and with the help of DRBC staff, derby participants were able to identify the bugs found in the water samples. The hands-on lesson explained that the type and amount of aquatic bugs found in a waterway can help indicate its water quality. Some bugs, for example mayfly or caddisfly larva, are intolerant to pollution, and some, for example scuds, are sensitive to pollution; others, such as leeches or aquatic worms, are more pollution tolerant. Finding pollution intolerant and pollution sensitive species in the water sample, which we did at the fishing derby, is a positive indicator of the health of the Delaware River at that location. 

Stacy Park sits alongside the Delaware River and hosts a walking/jogging path and Stacy Pond, which was the perfect setting for the Youth Fishing Derby. A record 70 students from Trenton in grades 2-8 participated in the derby this year, which was part of the broader state-wide Youth Fishing Challenge, promoting N.J.'s Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs Program. The event was catch and release; all equipment was provided for the students, and volunteers were on hand to help the kids learn how to fish and identify different species. 

This was the first year that DRBC staff participated and were pleased to be a part of this educational event. We look forward to next year's derby!