Deeply Felt: Rock Snot

Ann's Falls I
Ann's Falls I (Photo credit: fred1st)

Ann and I both have experienced falls or near falls in Goose Creek this past week. The rocky bottom has become coated with an invisible film of slimy algae. Thankfully, it is NOT didymo.

But it might well be, if local fishermen are not aware of the risk of spreading “rock snot” from nearby states (here’s an account from PA) or the three infested cold-clear trout waters in Virginia that have become victim to this slimy, rapidly-spreading diatom.

It seems the chief agent of spread is the felt in the boots of stream fishermen. Felt is being banned as a necessary loss of freedom we give up to keep Goose Creek, the Little River, the New River free of this aesthetically–but more importantly–biologically damaging invasive.

The single cells of didymo can also stay in wet clothes from a fishing or other stream-side activity. Follow these guidelines before you go back to the creek or river.

Tell your fishing friends about didymo.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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