Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Charlie
The amazing Green Team from King Elementary visited Abernethy on Friday to take a look at how their hard work on the creek has been paying off for the health of the stream. They did this by taking a look at a sample of macroinvertebrates living in the stream. Macroinvertebrate is essentially a fancy scientific term that more or less means “bug.” Pollutions in streams and rivers are very transient in that they might be constantly changing, and chemical tests aren’t always reliable for getting a feel for how unhealthy the water in a stream is. But, the animals living in the stream are affected by any pollution that may flow down, so looking at who is crawling along the bottom of Abernethy Creek can give us an idea of how healthy it is. Restoration Ecologists, like the students in the King Elementary Green Team, know that some macroinvertebrates like mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies are more sensitive to pollution than others, so we were hoping to see some of these six-legged friends in our sample. And… we did! Students found some specimens of small minnow mayflies and case making caddisflies, an exciting sight! Students also found some water boatmen, aquatic earthworms, a scud, water mites, among many other kinds of invertebrates.
It was great to see some pollution sensitive macroinvertebrates are living in Abernethy creek, but since most of the inverts we did find were more pollution tolerant, there is still need for improving the Abernethy watershed to improve the health of the water. I know that work that the King Elementary Green Team has been doing on this site will make a lasting positive impact on the watershed. The trees and shrubs they have planted and have been maintaining will grow nice and tall, providing that much-needed shade, and bank stability for the creek, making the water nicer for more aquatic bugs to join in on the invertebrate party that’s going down at Abernethy.