Melissa Lenker
Melissa dives in to summer in Montreal as she continues her studies in marine bio.

Didn’t think I would survive another month-long foray catching lake trout eh?

I battled agonizing 4:00 AM alarms, plague-like hordes of mosquitos, and winds nearly 40 mph less than gale-force to bring you this blog. It is with great regret that I inform my readers that I do not in fact look like the ripped Greek god Hercules after one month of pulling gillnets. But I think we all know that rippling muscles are overrated; in the immortal words of Justin Timberlake, hand callouses are what really brings sexy back.

Follensby Pond at its finest. 

For those of you keeping track, I managed to eat three boxes of grape nuts and 4-6 jars of peanut butter in the last month. I am utterly convinced that every single one of those calories was converted into muscle for my burgeoning six-pack abs (okay, more like a two-pack, if you squint a bit).

The official non-food related tally is 115 lake trout caught, 102 lake trout released with internal PIT tags, three lake trout recaptured, and 17 more pairs of otoliths collected for the von Bertalanffy age/length growth curve.

We dissect lake trout that do not survive the gillnetting process for tissue samples, otoliths (ear bones), and stomach contents. This particular SANA (short for Salvelinus namaycush) had a stomach full of invertebrates.

The official non-food related tally also includes approximately two dozen mosquito bites. If graduate school has taught me anything, it is that female anatomy is poorly adapted to urinating in the woods when in the midst of a hungry mosquito blizzard. Enough said.

Those poorly placed mosquito bites have stopped itching, which means it’s time to get back to work. My current post-field work to-do list involves recoding the population model R script to incorporate angler effort, investigating the various ways to calculate age-dependent natural mortality, analyzing historic lake trout spawning data, reworking growth curves to include the recent field data, and other tedious tasks like filing expense reports and fixing ripped gillnets. Fishing sounds like more fun right? I think so too.

Setting a gillnet anchor in my survival suit during a particularly steamy sunrise.

Montreal is at its finest with sunny weather, farmers’ markets, summer festivals, and café terraces packed with locals and tourists alike. The sheer number of summer festivals in Montreal rivals even that of Sarah’s Amsterdam , and I have a feeling Amsterdam knows how to party. Last weekend I ditched my computer screen for a weekend downtown.

Summer yachts passing through the historic Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue canal.

The highlight of my journey was undoubtedly a side by side taste test of Montreal’s most famous bagels: sesame bagels from St-Viateur Bagel and the Fairmount Bagel Factory. Locals are divided as to which shop makes better bagels. It’s a surprisingly emotional issue (think USC vs. UCLA) and everyone seems to have an opinion. The verdict? They taste exactly the same.

Left: the seseme seed bagel from the Fairmount Bagel Factory.
Right: The seseme seed bagel from St-Viateur Bagel.


In other news, I am moving into a beautiful new apartment this weekend. My faithful goldfish are coming too. Given that one gallon of water weighs eight pounds, my goldfish tank holds twenty gallons, I do not own a car, and my new apartment is on the third floor of an elevator-less apartment building, how many street blocks and flights of stairs will I walk in order to bring every piece of the aquarium setup over separately? Cross your fingers for me.

In more exciting news, the pre-press abstract for my paper (citation follows) on the seasonal variation of amphibian fungal disease chytridiomycosis is online. Check it out here .

Lenker MA, Savage AE, Becker CG, Rodriguez D, Zamudio KR (2014) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection dynamics vary seasonally in Upstate New York. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. doi:10.3354/dao02760

Next week I am vacationing with my family in Quebec City and then heading back to California for the month of July. Summer is the best.


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