Electric Eels

The Environment Agency (EA) carried out a river restoration at Knepp in 2011. Since then we've been collecting data to see how the river develops and what wildlife moves in.

This week Gareth and Damon from the EA did a fish survey along the southern part of the river restoration. They used a technique called electrofishing - this temporarily stuns the fish in order to be able to catch them and identify them. Here's Gareth looking like a Ghostbuster:

There's something about fish that brings out your inner-child...so I excitedly had my head in the bucket examining the first few net loads as they came out: Roach, Eel (I love seeing Eels, such a rarity now), Stone Loach, Three-spined Stickleback, and this beautiful Perch:

Then came Gudgeon, Chub, Dace, and this young Pike:

And this has got to be my favourite, the Bullhead:

Once the fish had been identified and measured they were put back in to the river:

Ten species was a really respectable total for a river in its early days of recovery. It was good to see fish of different ages using the river too, with young fish sheltering in the nooks and crannies provided by the coarse woody debris.

The hope is that as the river settles down and the bank-side vegetation becomes more established we will see an increase in biodiversity. With this in mind we will continue our surveys on the river and surrounding floodplain scrapes to see what fish, plants, snails, beetles and dragonflies move in over the years to come.

by Penny Green, Knepp Ecologist