Public Lab Research note

Trawling with BabyLegs in New Orleans City Park!

by mimiss | August 05, 2019 19:46 05 Aug 19:46 | #20418 | #20418

mimiss was awarded the Excessive Enthusiasm Barnstar by liz for their work in this research note.

Hello from New Orleans!

We were really excited to get our feet wet with BabyLegs and took her out this weekend. (I'm still trying to come up with a Cajun name for my BabyLegs since she mimicked their journey from southwest Canada to Southern Louisiana!)

About City Park

City Park People

We went out on the Big Lake at City Park in New Orleans. City Park is 1300 acres in the middle of New Orleans that first opened in 1854. Today, the park is used for recreational activities, it includes two museums, an amusement park, and hosts festivals. I grew up in and around City Park and I'm interested in how our use of the park is impacting environmental health. The lake and lagoons of the park are also stocked with Bass and Catfish, and many people fish in this are. During our canoe trip, we saw lots of large floating trash and plastic and wanted to know what that looks like at the microplastic level as well.

Big Lake Fisherman

We also did just a little bit of infrared imaging to explore the plant health along our path! Here is a fisherman on a dock on the Big Lake.

Getting Ready to Trawl

Things we brought

We brought tons of stuff with us. We decided to build BabyLegs on site, so we had all of the materials to do that, plus imaging supplies, snacks, sunscreen, and bug spray. I wish that we'd brought more snacks and maybe some extra BabyLegs parts as well. We broke our clamp and didn't have the knowledge or patience to fix it, so we modified BabyLegs and she had a rope belt instead of a clamp. This was functional, but the slimy wet rope was really hard to change out when we wanted to put on new nylons.

Building and getting ready to go!

Taking her out

Here's the path that we took around the park. We collected two separate samples, marked here in pink and blue. Our first trawl stayed on Big Lake, and our second sweep went through much more developed areas, including a sculpture garden and behind the Old Casino Building, which is now home to a Cafe du Monde and is one of the busiest areas in the park.

Where we trawled.

We had some difficulty keeping BabyLegs from getting twisted up since we weren't paying enough attention to her. There were a lot of just-below-the-surface obstacles along our path, and I was more focused on not getting stuck on a piece of art in a very public space than collecting a good sample. We still got stuck on a statue so we were both very happy to have brought sunglasses for some anonymity.

BabyLegs in a sculpture garden

Lessons Learned

Here are a few of the things we will keep in mind for our next trip:

  • Bring extra pieces! We broke the clamp and having another would have been really nice.
  • Pay attention to BabyLegs. Sometimes she gets a little twisted which is not good. We also stopped several times and she got dunked all the way under the water and may have lost our sample. Other times she wasn't in the water at all! (look closely at the photo above!)
  • Check for live things frequently. We snagged some tiny fish a few times that we needed to take out while we trawled. We also caught a piece of bread that led to a literal wild goose chase, and we had a dozen water fowl following us trying to get the bread out of BabyLegs.

BabyLegs sample ready to head home.

Haven't had a chance to check out our sample yet, will update when I do!


@liz awards a barnstar to mimiss for their awesome contribution!

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PublicLab Amazing!

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PublicLab This is awesome!!!

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I want to read more urban environmental monitoring adventures from @mimiss! Love all the photos.

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T'Jomb? Petit Jambes? Jambes de Bebe?

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Also, not a total surprise you caught fish, since this is a low-rent Bongo net.

People catch shrimp with those, and in University, we used them to trawl for larval fishes.

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