Stream and River Mysteries

Residents missing and killed !

Evidence of massive cover ups !

Locals become victims of poisoning - bodies found floating belly up !

Acid attack in central North Island !

Invaders cause trouble !

These are typical headlines from the newspapers describing problems that are all to common in society these days but they were written to describe not troubles between people but troubles faced by the creatures that live in our streams and rivers. See if you can link these headlines with the following stories.

  1. Native animals have gone missing from many of our waterways due to environmental changes and some have become scarce because too many have been killed by people who enjoy fishing.
  2. Spills of chemicals from factories, timber treatment plants and gold mines have killed many fish and other freshwater creatures.
  3. Introduced species have changed the ecological balance of waterways, competing with native species or eating them.
  4. Massive cover ups of marshland and clean riverbeds by silt washed down from land cleared of bush has destroyed natural habitats.
  5. Changes in river acidity from industrial effluent have driven some creatures from their natural habitats

How did you do? There are many stories of murder and mayhem that take place in our rivers and streams, although the people who cause the death and destruction often do it without ever wanting to or even knowing they have.

You could probably compose some other headlines that looked as though they were people problems but actually referred to existing or possible troubles in our waterways. Imagine yourself as a detective trying to solve these cases.

You would have to get some background information to solve the mystery.

are some of the basic information environmental detectives have to uncover.

Like criminal detectives, sometimes environmental detectives need to find out what - if any - crimes have been committed if they suspect that something is not quite right.

They will need to:

- map the scene

- collect photographic evidence

- sort evidence into categories and build up relationships

- investigate the stories of the witnesses (the local resident creatures in the streams and rivers in which there are mysteries to solve).

Check out the 17 key Ecology Factors which you, as a River Detective, will need to use when investigating your local river or stream.

Next, head over to the River Detective Case Histories. These are fascinating tales written by Dr. John Walsby, which have appeared in his weekly column "Nature Watch" in the New Zealand Herald. As a training exercise, consider how each of the Ecology Factors is important in each of the River Keeper case histories.

With this training behind you, pick a critter or subject to investigate and write your own Case History.

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