TVA uses electro-fishing to showcase fish variety at Riverbend

WTVC - Electro-fishing with TVA on the Tennessee River

Riverbend is about more than music and food. The Tennessee Valley Authority is using the festival as a way to teach people more about the diverse fish population in the region.

For the first time at Riverbend, there is an aquarium set up at the TVA tent, filled with more than 20 varieties of fish from the Tennessee River.

We went out with TVA biologists Friday as they caught the fish using a method called electro-fishing.

"Electro-fishing is a biological technique that is used by biologists to temporarily stun the fish to bring them up to the surface so we are able to quickly, easily and efficiently see what kind of fish are in the reservoir or in an area," said Kurt Lakin, a TVA biologist.

Lakin says this method does not harm the fish.

"It just knocks them out for a few seconds or a minute or so, then they come right back to life and go on their merry way."

This allows them to study a wide variety of fish at once, and gives people an up close look at the process.

"The water resources that we have here are a lot of things that a lot of other parts of the country don't have, and it's an incredible system," Lakin said.

John Justice is another TVA biologist.

"This is one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America when it comes to aquatic life," Justice said.

Justice says people may not be aware of some of the different types of fish found in the Tennessee River.

He pointed out the different types as he pulled them in.

"This particular fish here is a black redhorse. They're not easily taken on hook and line. They live on the bottom and feed on insects."

TVA will be at Riverbend Saturday as well. After the festival, they will release the fish back into the river.

"It's a great hit and it's just an excellent opportunity to get out and interact with the public, and showcase some of these resources," Justice said. "A lot of people have never seen some of the fish we'll end up having in the tank."

Thanks in part to the fish diversity, Justice says for every mile of shoreline the Tennessee Valley provides an economic impact of $1 million.

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