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Friday, July 27, 2012

Day Five: Fort Pocahontas to Chickahominy Riverfront Park

The electroshock fishermen who shared their work (and catch!)
 with us as they surveyed blue catfish  populations
This morning we had a few early birds wake up at 4:45 to help further clean up camp from yesterday’s storm. Zack took time in the morning to give us a lesson on the river tides, describing the influence of the moon on tides and the physics behind diurnal tides. After we were finally reorganized and packed, we paddled away from Fort Pocahontas, breezing through miles as the tide was in our favor. After traveling four miles, we came upon a boat of Department of Inland Games and Fishery employees using electroshock techniques to pull fish out of the water in order to identify and count them. The fish they catch usually awake from a stunned state and are able to swim away fine, but they explained a few always die. The fishermen gave us 15 dead catfish from a batch of about 20,000 they had shocked that morning.

As our leaders today, Zack and Laura lead us to a perfect, sunny beach for lunch. We ate massive amounts of tuna; filling our bellies to the brim. Some stayed in the water for a quick dip, while the less ambitious half of the group napped on shore.

Beautiful beach and delicious lunch - what more could you ask for?

We had three miles left to paddle to make camp, which included a wide river crossing during which we had to ensure all the boats stayed together. Today was good practice for the biggest open water crossing we face tomorrow. Setting up camp seems to be getting easier and easier, giving us even more time to relax today than we had yesterday. Today our recreational activities ranged from playing soccer and volleyball to filleting catfish, to sawing fallen timber for the campfire.

Setting up camp!

Hoping for dry clothes again, one day

Gabe teaches the expedition fish anatomy
 and how to fillet a fish 
The day's scientists share their catch from the
 seine net with the rest of the crew
No one has had a better dinner than we did tonight. We enjoyed camp-made guacamole, hamburgers, grilled catfish, potato salad, and even ice cream. We owe our food festival to the many river friends that we met along the way. Not only were we fed by fishermen, but by JRA executive board member Greg and his wife Beth Davis and Emily Betes, a teacher from last year’s expedition.

A plate full of grilled catfish = happy campers
Just when we thought the day couldn't get any better,
JRA board member Greg Davis and his wife, Beth, surprised everyone with  ice cream!

We were grateful for all of the generosity we have received from river folk, and are thankful for everyone we have met along our expedition!

Hailey, Nik, and Molly  

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