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DRBC Celebrates the Delaware River at Trenton River Days Fair
These young Trenton River Days Fair attendees are interested to see what bugs they can find. Photo by DRBC. 
These young Trenton River Days Fair attendees are
interested to see 
what bugs they can find, as DRBC's
Aquatic Biologist Jake Bransky looks on. 
Photo by DRBC. 

DRBC had a great time participating in the first-ever Trenton River Days Fair, held September 28 at South Riverwalk Park, along the Delaware River in Trenton, N.J.

Exhibiting along with DRBC was the SPLASH Steamboat Floating ClassroomDocked in Lambertville, N.J., SPLASH is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide environmental and historical education while sailing aboard a working steamboat. SPLASH stands for Student Participation in Learning Aquatic Science and History, and each trip offers students and adults alike a unique, hands-on learning experience while sailing on the wild and scenic Delaware River. SPLASH is a partner with DRBC in an outreach effort entitled Our Shared Waters: A Look at the Delaware River Basin (OSW for short), which aims to increase public awareness of the important role the Delaware River - and the basin as a whole - plays in our daily lives.

DRBC and SPLASH tag-teamed an activity focused on macroinvertebrates - aka aquatic bugs. Staff collected bugs from the Delaware River and displayed them in trays of water for attendees to check out, identify, and learn what they can tell us about water quality. 

Why bugs? They live underwater, among the stones, logs, sediments, and aquatic plants on the bottom of streams, rivers and lakes. The condition of the water determines what species of macroinvertebrates can and cannot survive, so the type of bugs you find can help tell about how clean the water is where they were collected. Factors that determine survival include temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels, as well as the presence (or not) of contaminants. In fact, studying the river's aquatic insect communities is one of the ways DRBC scientists determine the biological health of the river. 

The consensus? Squirming around in the leaf debris in the trays were a large number of caddisfly and mayfly nymphs, along with several large stoneflies. These organisms are pollutant intolerant, meaning that they require high quality, clean water to be able to thrive. This is an indicator that the Delaware River where these bugs were collected is healthy and supportive of a robust biological community.

This event was a great place for DRBC and SPLASH to exhibit, and providing a hands-on experience helped attendees get a better understanding of what we do to help monitor and protect our waterways. Connecting with the public helps share information about the Delaware River and the many organizations that are working to protect it, as well as encourages stewardship of our shared water resources.

Trenton River Days Fair was planned and organized by several entities, including The Watershed Institute, Mercer County Park Commission, The City of Trenton, D&R Greenway Land Trust, and the Alliance for Watershed Education. We look forward to next year!