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FishNet Explore '98 - Journal Entry, June 23, 1998
There was some melodrama today.
We started this morning taking the Puerta Blanca trail through a 53 mile
segment of Organ Pipe. Along the way Heiko photographed a number of
plants and other animals. This specific trail passes by Quitovaquito
Springs. We arrived there about 10 am in hopes of finding the fishery
biologists from Arizona State there working with the Pupfish.
As we approached the Spring it was obvious that we were in luck.
Since I was leading the way I was the first to approach them. I
immediately noticed a distinguished male along with a female assistant. I
also noted someone "under the hood" of an apparatus which was set
up. In about a minute a person emerged - the now infamous TIm Tibbits.
Boy, did he have a surprised look on his face.
No introductions were needed. The distinguished biologist was Michael
Douglas, editor of _Copeia_. Both Michael and Heiko new each other
from a number of international conferences that both had attended over
After about 30 minutes of conversation between Heiko and Michael
during which time Tim Tibbits said very little, an invitation was extended
by Tim to take Heiko, Paola and myself to the other, less significant
springs a couple of miles away. I declined going on the trip in the hopes
that Heiko and Tim would become more acquainted.
Tim loaded up water bottles for the group and he, Heiko and Paola
headed out in the high heat toward these other springs. Significantly,
neither Heiko or Paola had any water with them. There were both
dependent on Tim to lead them and offer periodic water for the trio.
The group made it to the first spring which measured less than a foot in
length and held less than 2 gallons of water. However it happened,
immediately thereafter Tim became separated from Heiko and Paola.
After several yells, Tim was not to be found.
Being the experienced explorer that he is, Heiko climbed the nearest hill
and oriented himself. Both he and Paola headed directly toward the
Quitovaquito Springs with no water.
Meanwhile back at the Spring, I helped Michael carry fish to his
observation station he had set up. I learned that he has been doing
population survey work for a couple of years.
Recently he worked out a procedure to jet spray some florescent paint
on collected adults. Using different colors of paint he could by following
them determine what, if any movement, there were with populations in
the pond versus the 100 yard stream head. This was absolutely
fascinating at how quickly Michael could determine where the fish he
collected in a specific region of the stream originated.
After nearly two (2) hours after their original departure, Heiko and Paola
returned. Tim was not with them. They both briefly recanted to me
privately what happened.
Heiko then made a request to photograph specimens Michael was
handling. Michael allowed this, allowing Heiko to get all of the
photographs he originally hoped to get. As Heiko was finishing, Tim
emerged from the brush carrying an beam-tripping camera. From what
little we were told it appeared that this camera was used to get photos
of "things" moving around the other springs. From the condition of the
plywood housing it seemed obvious that this box had been in the desert
for a very short period of time.(assuming that the moisture in plywood
would be quickly baked away in the 100+ degree temperature.
Perhaps more interesting is that Tim did not ask the first question to Heiko
or Paola about what had happened to them out in the desert. (I sure
hope that any "guide" who would lead me into the desert would more
interested in keeping an eye on me and my well-being.
I suspect that the reason Tim did not say anything is that when he did
return Heiko was doing what he originally requested - photographing the
fish without any danger or impact to them in under the full supervision of
another trained fishery scientists. Tim probably was shocked that his
best efforts to sidetrack us the days before were now working out
exactly the way they should.
After another round of Michael's "make me happy" water our group
found our way back to our vehicle and headed toward Tucson.
We made another brief stop at Kitt Peak, a multi-telescope observatory
high on the mounts of the Arizonian Sonoran desert. The 88 degree
temperature was a welcome relief from the 100+ temperatures of the
previous days. In fact we experienced our hottest temperature in
Tucson - 114 degrees.
After a quick meal we headed on to New Mexico and our reunion with
the Kuhns family. This day was quite an experience.
<Posted for John Benn by Jan Benn>