What’s Lurking Below the Surface?

Blog written by: Sam Nunlist, Southern Rover Interpreter

On my last blog, I gave a little bit of history about the town that was flooded and now rests below Everett Lake.  This time around I want to give some information about the small critters you might come across if you bring a net along with you and do some ponding.

Before I get started, I just want to remind everyone that these are living creatures and if you decide to do some scientific exploration of your own, please, please, put them back in their homes after you have a quick look!

A newborn catfish found in the waters of Silver Lake State Park (also found in Clough State Park)

There are many small animals lurking in the foggy waters of the lakes and ponds you like to swim in.  If this is concerning to you, allow me to ease your worries, as we do not have any dangerous animals hiding in the depths.  Instead, what you are likely to find are small macro-invertebrates! Macro (big enough to see with your eyes) invertebrates (animals with no backbones) are plentiful in ponds, mostly liking to hang out in the sand or around water vegetation.  Some examples would be:

Dragonfly nymphs: These “monsters” live in the water at a minimum for six months up to a maximum of four years! They molt their exoskeleton much like a snake does, so they can grow bigger.  Once they reach their adult stage they will molt one last time and emerge with wings.  From there they will take flight and look like the dragonflies we know and love (since they eat those pesky wasps and mosquitoes) where they will live for only a few months.

Image of a large dragonfly nymph found in Clough Sate Park
Image of a dragonfly nymph’s exoskeleton

Dobsonfly larvae: An interesting and elusive catch, these larvae are long, segmented, and have large mandibles. These little creatures are sometimes used as an indicator species for water quality as they are intolerant of polluted areas.  When they grow larger, much like the dragonflies, they will molt their exoskeletons and grow to be one of the most visually interesting bugs in New Hampshire.

Image of a young Dobsonfly larva caught in Kingston State Park

Freshwater snails: There are a wide variety of freshwater snails in the waters of New Hampshire. All it takes is a little patience and a keen eye to spot bubbles coming from the sand and you are most likely to find a snail where those bubbles are coming from. They are also generally on top of the sand slowly scouring for food.

Image of freshwater snail with eye stalks revealed. Found in Silver Lake State park.

This is just a sampling of some of the creatures you can find in the water if you go hunting! There are plenty of other invertebrates to discover as well as some vertebrates, too.  If you want to join me in the pursuit of these amazing critters you can find me at Kingston State Park on Fridays, Clough State Park on Saturdays, or Silver Lake on Sundays with a plethora of nets!


Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming. Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.

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