Native Fish and Streamlife Observation Outing, May 11th, 2002

The North American Native Fishes Association
Cleveland Aquarium Society
Mahoning River Consortium

by Rob Carrillio


Eagle Creek

Rock Creek

Stratton Creek


Fish List

Thanks to Nick Zarlinga

More Photos





Thanks to Nick Zarlinga!

Nick Zarlinga in Eagle Creek


As I conclude the above story, I want to begin a new one. The beginning of this story, in some ways, meets the end results of the above story! What are the results? Well, simple . . . we have turned many more individuals on to appreciating native fishes. I want to acknowledge a big reason why so many turned out to make this day an educational and fun experience: this reason is Nick Zarlinga, Aquatic Biologist with the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo. I want to share a little story about how he became so involved with native fish and habitat conservation advocacy!

When I first made phone communication with him back in 1995, I was trying to promote NANFA and attempt to advocate that the zoo grant more regard to native fishes in their aquatic exhibits building. At first, although I realized that Nick was aware of natives and the importance of educating the public about native fishes and habitats, he was probably a bit skeptical about some of my ideas and who I was! HA! Suprisingly, it wasn't until approximately late summer of1998 that he and I met in person for the first time.

At this first meeting, Nick invited me to present the idea of implementing native fish and riparian zone interpretive signage on Big Creek to a concerned group of zoo associates. Despite its character and rich natural history of native fishes, Big Creek, which runs directly through the Cleveland Zoo, for years had been cast in the shadows of the lions, tigers, and bears! (Oh my!) HA!

After our first meeting, and maybe as a result of it, another meeting with Nick gave Big Creek a chance to shine in the zoo spotlight! Nick, probably so inspired by the video he saw at my signage presentation, organized a group of individuals to perform a survey of species on the stream. I was among those individuals. Not suprisingly, we identified only about 10 species, and a few things I do not care to mention! The good news here, however, isn't about finding the jackpot of species diversity. As it turned out, I think that this was really the beginning of Nick's becoming even more excited about native fishes, than I! Man, I'm proud of you!

So with all that said, it brings us forward to the outing we just completed. I want to point out that earlier in the week, Nick provided the Cleveland Aquarium Society with a brilliant presentation on native fishes, habitats, and watersheds! I attended this presentation, and was very impressed that he not only took the time to round up and research all the information in the presentation, but also presented it in such a way that was concise, visually attractive, easy to understand, and that would be sure to attract any tropical fish enthusiast to have a look at native fish and understand what we have known for years: how awesome our native fishes are! After last Saturday, I think they're all sold!

Nick, THANK YOU for helping to "NET" many more appreciators of native fishes, who may be the conservation advocates of the future! As I have always said, "In order for you to want to save something, you have to love it first!" Nick has created that love between fish and man! He has evolved beyond the realm of mainstream fish keeping!

I am taking this opportunity to officially introduce him, and allow him a cameo appearance on this Web site to tell a story that will capture the essence of a stream visit! This visit, of course, was the "bonus" stop of the day, which I did not attend and was much too tired to make up a story about! Nick?... Will you fill us in on that last "stream stop" of the day? Ladies and gentlemen... Mr. Nick Zarlinga! (Applause!... Applause!...)..... (Your turn now.. You could begin by saying.... "Thank You Rob!"... Blah... Blah...Blah...)


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