Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop was back in Lick Creek this week, this time with Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register and Sound Rivers’ intern William Wallace, along with macroinvertebrate specialist Jason York with Michael Baker International.
“We saw a ton of cool critters,” Sam said. “William and Taylor, both of them got an education in macroinvertebrates.”
Sam has been surveying Lick Creek for macroinvertebrates in four separate locations: three that have been heavily impacted by development, where sedimentation is clearly an ongoing problem; and another reference sample site, on Rocky Branch, which leads to Lick Creek.
The purpose of macroinvertebrate surveys is to determine the health of a waterbody. In healthy bodies of water, macroinvertebrate populations are diverse and thriving. In polluted bodies of water, those populations are limited to pollution-tolerant species.
“These surveys are the No. 1 way to determine that the creek has biological integrity. Right off the bat, there was more in quantity and more in diversity of the macroinvertebrate species in Rocky Branch, which is supposed to represent how the creeks should be,” Sam said. “Other sites had less diversity. The species that we did find in the impacted sites are really the most tolerant species.”
Sam described how both she and Taylor sank deep enough into sediment deposited on the creek “bottom” that water overflowed their boots in the locations heavily impacted by development.
“What this shows is that sediment isn’t just floating in the water, it’s settling and choking out the life beneath it, as opposed to the reference sample site where we could actually see rocks on the bottom of the creek,” Sam said.